It is not often that an athlete chooses to compete at Cal Poly instead of the University of Miami, but Jennifer Keddy is not your average athlete.
Keddy, an All-American volleyball player, chose Cal Poly over scholarship offers from Miami and the University of Montana. The junior middleblocker said she was unsure of where she wanted to attend college until she took an official visit to Cal Poly.
“When I visited here, I loved all of the girls and coaches that I met,” Keddy said. “They had won the Big West two years in a row, and I wanted to be a part of the program.”
Keddy, a native of Missoula, Mont., was not largely recruited until her senior year of high school — she did not receive interest from Cal Poly until the coaching staff saw her play for her club team. The staff was instantly enamored by her ball control and ability to play anywhere on the court, interim head volleyball coach Caroline Walters said.
“The last staff found her at an unsigned senior showcase,” Walters said. “Being from Montana, which is not known for volleyball talent, she had to play multiple positions on the club team, and it really prepared her for what she does now.”
Once Keddy arrived on campus, she quickly established herself as one the best players in the Big West Conference. She was named to the Big West Conference All-Freshman team an averaged 2.18 kills per set and .8 blocks. Keddy had two matches where she hit more than .500, including hitting .714 versus Cal State Fullerton. She also had two matches with six blocks.
“(Keddy) is a great offensive player and a really good blocker,” sophomore outside hitter Kristina Graven said. “Now that she is getting kills out of the back row, she is a real threat for us.”
During her sophomore season, Keddy asserted herself as one of the best players in the country, not just the Big West. She was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American Third Team and also received All-West Region honors last season. She was also on the All-Big West First Team and had 10 or more kills in 25 matches.
Keddy led the conference with a .364 hitting percentage and averaged 2.92 kills per set. As a result of her strong season, Keddy was granted an invite-only tryout for the National Youth Team at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in the offseason.
Keddy, a recreation, parks and tourism administration junior, said she doesn’t plan on ending her volleyball career anytime soon.
“I want to continue to play volleyball after I graduate,” Keddy said. “I don’t know if it is going to be beach volleyball, playing overseas or hopefully for the Olympic team. I just know that I want to stay in sports for sure.”
Even with all of her accolades and success, Keddy still has room to grow as a player and a leader.
“We need to get more reps for her blocking because she has the ability shut people down,” Walters said. “And off the court she needs to continue to be a leader and create an environment that demands the hard work and excellence that she carries with her.”
Keddy has accomplished almost every individual feat a volleyball player can, but there is one trophy that has eluded her here at Cal Poly: a Big West Championship. The Mustangs have not won the league in her three years.
Even though they have beaten some highly ranked teams like then No. 16 Arizona last season, success in league has been difficult for Cal Poly recently. The Big West only gets more competitive next season when the University of Hawaii joins the league. The Warriors are consistently one of the top programs in the nation.
“I want to win the Big West for sure,” Keddy said. “We will win the Big West before I leave and I want to go to the tournament.”
For now, the team has a tough hill to climb. Two road losses this weekend has the team in seventh place in the Big West, but only one win removed from second place. The Mustangs return to Mott where they are 5-1 this season on Nov. 5 to face UC Irvine, then conclude their home schedule on Nov. 11 against UC Riverside.