Leechburg’s Grine relies on height, skills, confidence for promising senior season

Friday, September 10, 2021 | 10:01 AM

Kalli Grine has been the tallest girl in her class dating to elementary school, so she always has been an intimidating presence on the volleyball court.

Now, she has a confidence in her game that matches her physical tools.

With the experience she’s gained and the belief instilled in her from teammates, Grine, who is listed at 6-foot-2, blossomed into an all-section performer at middle hitter last year for a Leechburg team that reached the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals.

“When I think about when she was a freshman, she was still a little timid, and this year in particular as an incoming senior she’s been a huge leader,” Leechburg coach Eve Hebrank said. “She’s very confident in her game and very confident in where everyone else needs to be. She really helps her teammates.”

For the 2021 season, Grine will start at outside hitter, moving from the middle, because of her ability to adapt quickly. The move also will create matchup difficulties for opponents.

“She can really play anywhere,” Hebrank said. “She picks it up fast. Offensively, she’s our go-to, and she’s a great blocker.”

Grine was a soccer player growing up, but after watching her older sister, Ashley, play for the Leechburg volleyball team she became interested in the sport. Once she tried volleyball for herself she knew it was the sport she wanted to pursue.

“I was really hooked on soccer at first, but once I started playing volleyball I liked the team aspect of it,” Grine said. “I enjoyed being with the team and have stuck with it.”

The team aspect is something that is very important to Grine, because it was older teammates who since have graduated who helped her develop the confidence she showed last year. It’s something she’s working to pay forward with some younger teammates. The Blue Devils have a pair of first-year setters in junior Kylie Faibry and senior Tatum Verner, who was mainly an outside hitter last season and will continue that role along with her new setting responsibilities.

“We had McKenna Pierce last year and she was a really good setter, but we have two new setters this year and they have fit in pretty well,” Grine said. “It’s always hard to adjust to a new lineup at first, but we seem to be getting into a groove with it.”

Grine is hopeful to play in college. She went on a visit to West Virginia Wesleyan in the summer and has another visit scheduled for early October when she’ll meet the team.

In her final high school season she’d like to help Leechburg win a section championship for the first time in more than a decade. The Blue Devils were section runners-up to Greensburg Central Catholic in 2020 and lost to OLSH, 3-1, in the quarterfinals.

“I would like to take the section this year, and I believe we can do it as a team together,” Grine said. “I also want to make it further in playoffs. Last year was the first time since I’ve been here that we’ve made it past the first round, and, hopefully, we can get even further this year.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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