Kasey Woodruff’s volleyball career started in the street.
Despite the unorthodox location, at age 6 she began learning the fundamentals from the older neighborhood girls. Two years later, she moved to the gym with her first club team.
Now a high school junior, Woodruff is a co-captain for the defending Class 4A state champion Curtis Vikings — and what coach Michael Miller calls a rare breed of libero.
“I always say there’s three types of defensive specialists,” he said. “The kind who can play great defense, the kind who is great on serve-receive and the kind who can do it all.
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“Kasey’s one of those players (who can do it all). She is very solid and very consistent.”
Consistency will be crucial for a young Vikings team that graduated four starters, including outside hitter Elly McEachern, the reigning All-Area Player of the Year.
“They were very good at what they did, on and off the court,” said Woodruff, a 2015 All-Area first team selection known for her exceptional court sense. “I think I’m ready to fill those shoes.”
Woodruff said she knows the Vikings cannot get complacent in a revamped 4A South Puget Sound League that includes former Narrows League powerhouse Bellarmine Prep, as well as 2015 state runner-up Emerald Ridge.
“No one can take that away (but) we definitely have to keep working hard,” she said. “We can’t stop and say ‘Oh, we were state champions once.’ We have to keep trying, to defend that title.”
Woodruff said that while being 5-foot-6 made libero a natural fit, she loves contributing to the team’s success.
“If I get a good up and someone puts the ball away, it’s the best feeling,” she said. “You had a part in it — if it wasn’t for that, that point wouldn’t have happened.”
Miller said that Woodruff, who began playing for him as a freshman, is “the general of the back row.”
“She takes charge so much that at times, based on what the other team is doing offensively, she will switch positions with another player.
“She’ll be like ‘I hope you don’t get mad at me, but I see this’ and I say ‘absolutely not’. That’s part of being a leader and being a captain.”
Woodruff, an honors student who also plays for the Puget Sound Volleyball Academy and on Curtis’ softball team, said that she would like to compete collegiately.
Or maybe star on a reality show.
The longtime “Survivor” fan said she thinks she would have “so much fun” on the show — if it weren’t for the bugs.
“That’s why I’m more of a ‘Big Brother’ (contestant),” she said with a laugh. “They live in a house with beds.”
So what would keep Woodruff from being voted off “Survivor: SPSL Volleyball”?
“I try to keep my teammates positive,” she said. “If we’re down or on a situation that’s tough, positivity helps — talking and being loud.”
Junior setter Haley Morton felt similarly, calling her co-captain a “very loud” presence on the court.
“It gives people the confidence of knowing she’s there,” she said. “That she’s going to be covering them when they hit, that she’s going to say ‘you’ve got it’.”
“She’s a huge leader on the team; I have no doubt. She’s awesome.”