The hits just keep on coming for Kambree Lucas — 31, then 32, then 35 of them
The Northview senior volleyball player set the school record for kills in a match with that first number — achieved in just three sets, by the way — and has broken it twice since.
She already has the single-season record in that statistic set last season, when she was part of a frightening one-two punch with since-graduated Jenny Lundy on the Knights’ Class 3A state runner-up team, and she’s closing fast on the career mark held by former Saint Mary-of-the-Woods star Kenzi Kumpf.
“She’s on target [for all those records],” said Northview coach Erica Garrison earlier this week, while also pointing out that Lucas made the Indiana Junior All-Stars last season, “if we can keep her healthy and her arm not fall off.”
The latter part of that statement wasn’t really a joke. Lucas loves to hit the ball, and she loves to hit the ball hard — so much so that Garrison sometimes makes her a libero in intrasquad competition (she might be the Knights’ best passer too, now that former defensive specialist Katy Anderson has become a setter) and wouldn’t be afraid to do so in a game.
(It is believed that her teammates on the other side of the net in those scrimmages don’t mind a bit when they don’t have to field Lucas’s fusillade.)
Lucas is just having fun. “I’m so into the game that I focus more on my teammates. If Maddie [Kooistra] gets a big hit or Izzy [Horrall] a big block, that excites me more than how many kills I’m going to get,” she said this week.
At the end of a match, however, the competitor in her gets a little bit curious.
“It’s exciting,” she said when asked about her ascending single-match record. “It adds a lot more pressure every game, but I want to beat [my own record]; it gives me something to work for.”
The Wabash Valley is blessed with a good crop of hitters this fall. According to the state leaders list compiled by MaxPreps — not necessarily a 100% representation of the state, but closer than it used to be — Lucas is fourth in the state in kills and third in the state in kills per set. Also in the top 20 are Sullivan’s Asia Povlin, Parke Heritage’s Atlantis Clendenin and Terre Haute South’s Courtney Jones, with Clendenin tied for first in kills per set.
Clendenin, in fact, had 43 kills in the same match that Lucas got her 32, and Garrison indicated that Lucas would love to figure out how to get a rematch. Safe to say Lucas will be ready to play against the Golden Arrows and Braves later this season.
Having more of the offensive responsibilities this fall than she did a year ago could be either a blessing or a curse for Lucas, but she leans strongly toward the blessing side. Remember, she likes to hit.
“It’s different without Jenny,” Lucas acknowledged this week, “but we realize now we have to come together as one and work a lot harder.
“So far we’re getting so close,” she continued. “We play harder every game, and our bond has gotten a lot stronger.”
“Last year I could walk into a gym really confident,” Garrison said. “This year we’re still learning, but knowing I have Kambree gives me that sense of security.
“She’s motivational, inspirational . . . like a coach out there,” the coach added, “and she’s got that competitive edge, always going to be better than she was the game before.”
Lucas plans to lead the Knights as far as they can possibly go.
“I think we’re gonna surprise a lot of people,” she predicted. “I think people look over us, like this is a rebuilding season. I think we’re gonna prove a lot of people wrong.”
• Which way to the beach?: Lucas has signed a national letter of intent to play volleyball at Tennessee-Martin, and not only volleyball. She’ll be competing for the Skyhawks’ beach volleyball team too.
No, she admits, she hasn’t seen a beach in Martin, Tenn. “We have a sand court [at UTM], so maybe we play home matches,” she said, although she’s also noticed plenty of road matches in the south on the Skyhawks’ schedule. “I’ve never played beach volleyball before.”
Well, consider this: beach volleyball is played by two-person teams, and Lucas was her team’s setter (along with Lundy) for half of each match last season. Passing, setting, hitting? What else is there?
“[The Martin coaches] said because I was diverse, I could help them [in beach volleyball],” Lucas said.
“Her college coach got real lucky,” said Garrison.