Walk-on Kaylee Thomas already making an impact as a freshmanBy Ehsan Kassim | 11/17/2017 12:14am
Freshman Kaylee Thomas has started in 26 of Alabama's 28 matches this season.
Kaylee Thomas is making an impact on the Alabama volleyball team during her freshman season, despite her being a walk-on for the team.
Head coach Ed Allen attributes that to her coming from a volleyball family. Her sisters all played, and her dad coaches volleyball.
“Anytime you have a kid that comes from that, it enables them to see things more in-depth and easier than others,” Allen said.
Thomas has played in all 28 matches, and has started in 26 of them. She posted a career-high 15 digs and two service aces on Sept. 8 against Hofstra.
Thomas achieved double-digit kills in both matches against the highly-ranked Kentucky Wildcats.
What surprised Allen about Thomas is actually the main reason he believes she has done as well as she has in her freshman year.
“The competitive desire she has,” Allen said. “The effort she brings on a daily basis and ability to be as prepared as well as player I have ever had.”
Natalie Murison and Quincey Gary, two standout defensive players, have taken Thomas under their wing. Thomas credits them for helping her learn how to play at this level and helping her grow as a player.
“Both of them are co-captains, so it has been even better to look up to both of them,” Thomas said. “I feel like a whole different player. Sometimes I’ll watch older matches of this season to see how much my technique has changed and it’s incredible how much the coaches and other teammates have been able to help me grow as a defender. My passing numbers have continued to climb because my form has changed so much (for the better), and I’m making much better reads defensively.”
Because Thomas grew up in a volleyball family, she was playing against varsity teams her sisters were on.
Thomas played on her first competitive team when she was 10. She played in an 16U league, meaning most of her competition was usually older than her.
“Since I was so young and already had to play with people older than me it really helped me much in my everyday and athletic life,” Thomas said. “I’ve tried to take advantage of that as much as I could..”
Thomas is one of six freshmen on the team this year. She sees the team growing together and it has helped her throughout the beginning of the season.
“I am enjoying it a lot,” Thomas said. “I think it’s easier for us to adapt to the college when we have more people that are clueless as we are. We get to learn together instead of having just one person or two people having to go through that experience, we have six. It’s a fun having a bunch of people to go through that experience with.”
Thomas’ freshman season is wrapping up, with just four matches left in the regular season. She has cherished her first season at Alabama.
“The competition has been so much fun,” Thomas said. “Whether it’s practices or a game, the level of excitement and the incredibility of the athleticism that’s shown every second of this sport has just blown my mind away. And I’ve fallen in love with this program, and continue to everyday. The coaching staff is so incredible and my teammates and I have become family. Can’t imagine being anywhere else.”
Alabama travels to South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks this Friday, at 6 p.m. The Crimson Tide, 17-11 (5-9 SEC) defeated the Gamecocks, 11-14 (4-9) on Oct. 20.