Sports profile: Kelsey Handel

After playing Division II volleyball in her freshman year at Wingate University, Knoxville

native Kelsey Handel enters her third year as a senior on the Maryville College volleyball team.

Handel is a key leader for the Scots and earned All-USA South First-Team honors last season,

racking up 273 kills and 102 blocks in total.

 

Handel began playing volleyball in middle school and has been heavily involved in the sport

ever since. She played for the Knoxville area Phoenix Rising volleyball club as well as the K2

volleyball club. She played four years at Karns High School, where she had a successful career,

earning the position of captain for the team and going to state both her junior and senior years.

 

She achieved All-State First-Team honors in both her junior and senior year, and was named 3-

AAA District MVP and Regional MVP her senior year.

 

Kelsey started her college career with a season at Wingate University before transferring and

finding a home at Maryville College. She enjoyed her freshman year, but decided that it was not

the right fit for her.

 

“I looked at some other schools, but then I found Maryville and visited the campus and talked

to the coaches; everything about it seemed to shout ‘home’,” said Handel. “It just made sense.”

After being involved with volleyball for so long, Handel plans on finding ways to keep it

in her life beyond the end of her collegiate career. Handel has already coached one year of K2

volleyball club, and said she can see herself taking on coaching positions in the future, as well as

joining rec leagues to stay around the game.

 

Now in her third year at Maryville College, Handel reflects on the transition from Division II

to Division III: “I’m still playing against really good teams, so it doesn’t feel all that different.

The girls are very different in Division II because they get athletic scholarships and treat the

sport more like a job. The girls here [at MC] put in the work on and off the court, not because

they have a scholarship to uphold, but because they love the game so much”.

 

Handel says that the team is working well together this year and she enjoys being a part

of a team that has a bond: “As far as a personal goal for the season, I like to be someone that

my teammates can come to for advice. This year we really like each other, we have genuine

friendships”.

 

The Scots went 16-0 in conference games last year, earning them the USA South Conference

Title under head coach Kandis Schram, who earned the USA South Coach of the Year Award.

The team has also gone to the NCAA tournament the past 11 years.

 

Handel says that “every game is important, so we take it one game at a time, but we hope to

maintain our title and make it past the first round in the NCAA Tournament this year.”

Maryville is currently 10-8 in games this season, and will take on Piedmont College at home

on Wednesday Oct. 1 at 6:30 p.m.

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