BOGACZYK: Herd’s Kellerman Taking Libero Talents Overseas
The Word on the Herd-June 17, 2016
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – It is often said that one man’s loss is another man’s gain … or woman’s.
So it is for Allie Kellerman, Marshall’s senior volleyball libero, who is getting an opportunity to compete internationally next month in the 2016 European Global Challenge, a 12-team invitational in Pula, Croatia, featuring top U22 teams from the United States and Europe.
Kellerman, of Louisville, Ky., will play for the Bring It Promotions U.S. squad, one of six American teams in the event. BIP, which manages foreign volleyball tours from its Maumee, Ohio, base, has an 11-player roster for Team BIP U.S.
“It came out of the blue (Monday),” Kellerman said. “Coach (Mitch) Jacobs told me he had to talk to me, come to his office, and I wondered what kind of trouble I was in. But then he told me he had an opportunity for me to play on a team going on a European tour. A libero who was supposed to go had gotten injured, so that’s why this happened at the last minute, and he had connections with the coach of the team.”
On Jacobs’ recommendation, BIP Coach Jodi Schramm invited Kellerman, who was coming off a 2015 Herd season in which she set the school single record for digs with 555. She enters her senior season with 1,174, ranking No. 8 on the MU career list, and in striking distance of the school record of 1,758 set by Maggie Arias from 2004-07.
“This tour is perfect for Allie,” said Jacobs, who is approaching his 15th Herd season (255-190 record) and 24th as a collegiate head coach (437-301). “I'm very proud that she accepted the invitation to play overseas in the Global Challenge.
“The experience she will gain by playing libero in this very tough tournament against very strong competition will be very valuable for her and our team come fall. I have been a coach on a past USA Collegiate team that competed in this event, so I know how tough the challenge is ahead of her and her teammates.”
The tour begins July 4 when Kellerman flies to Prague, Czech Republic. Team BIP then moves to Vienna, Austria, and Maribor, Slovenia before competing July 10-14 in Pula, which is located on a peninsula on the Adriatic Sea. After the tournament, the team heads to Venice, Italy, for return to the U.S. on July 16.
To say the 20-year-old Kellerman is upbeat about the experience would be an understatement. It will be her first trip to Europe.
“Basically, it was like, ‘Wow!’ for me,” she said. “It’s just a great opportunity. We had to look at the cost of course, and then I had to get back to (BIP organizers), and I only had about two days to give them an answer.
“I called my parents, and we were between sessions of (youth) camp, so I was on the phone back and forth. I got a great deal on a round-trip plane ticket for a little over $1,000. The tour is $200 a day for each player, so that’s another $2,000. But to get an opportunity like this is special.”
Kellerman figured she would be otherwise occupied this summer.
“I’m taking three online classes this summer, and my mom asked right away about that and the trip,” said Kellerman, an accounting major who has won three Conference USA Academic Medals and owns a 3.75 GPA. “They are online, so I can take them on the road, and that’s nice. My mom said, ‘Make sure those hotels have WiFi and make sure you don’t fail your online classes.’
“I thought about it a little bit, but this was too good to pass up … I’ll graduate next spring, and really, I want to do an extra year of school, get my master’s. And hopefully, I can’t see stopping there. I’d really like to get the CPA, but I know that’s a huge challenge. But it’s a goal.”
Asked what part of her game she felt impressed those organizers who would consider Jacobs’ recommendation, Kellerman went after it like she dives for those digs during the Herd season.
“I’m hoping people would say my defense and ball control,” Kellerman said. “This past year, my defense has really come on a lot. Coach put me in the middle-back position and I think it brought out the best in my game. I’m not a numbers person. I do know my stats, but as for a goal this season, I’d like to do better, but I like to go by the wins. If we’re winning, I’m happy with what I’m doing.”
As one of four seniors on Jacobs’ 2016 roster, Kellerman wants to use the Global Challenge as a springboard for her final collegiate season.
“I honestly just want to play better this year,” she said. “It’s my last year, so I want to be better for my own good, but also we can do so much as a team. And I’m on the court a lot, so hopefully if I improve my game, that will help and we can go forward.
“As far as being a leader, I’m not going to lie; I’m not a natural person to be in a leadership position. I’m just not a very vocal person, except on the court. I just try to lead by example and hope the younger players follow.”
Jacobs said the international event is just rewards for Kellerman, who led the 2015 Herd in aces with 29 and was a two-time C-USA Defensive Player of the Week.
“Allie is one of the most unselfish players I've coached and always gives everything she has as a student and an athlete,” the Herd coach said. “For her to get to play with this USA collegiate select team after a record-setting junior season for the Herd is just wonderful for her and I just couldn't be happier.”
Kellerman, the only player in Herd history with at least three matches with 32 or more digs in the same season (2015), said she never expected to be “digging” Croatia.
“When I came to Marshall, I didn’t expect anything like this, but it was always something I thought would be a great experience for me,” Kellerman said. “I think it’s something where a lot of people would hope to have this opportunity, and I appreciate that. It was way far away in the bubble, but now it’s here.
“Now that it’s happened, I can’t wait to go. I was really anxious when I booked my ticket, like it was, ‘Wow, what did I just get myself into?’ Now, the team has been announced and it’s just exciting for me.”