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At The Net With Kelli Albers
September 18, 2003

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Fresh off a standout high school career incoming freshman don't look forward to a supporting role at the start of their college careers. 

 

Oklahoma's Kelly Albers is a freshman with uncharacteristic maturity and a desire to fight for her place at the college level.  She entered the season knowing the only guarantee was that she would have to work her way into OU offensive  rotation. 

 

The Cheney, Kan. native credits her maturity to being the youngest of nine siblings in her family.

 

"I've grown up my whole life with brothers horsing around with me," said Albers.  "In a family our size you learn to hold your own."

 

In the Albers family she learned lessons as the youngest child that will help her as she begins to push for playing time as an outside hitter.

 

"My family in high school was always very athletic," explained Albers.  "I had both brothers and sisters who excelled.  My sister even holds a state record for track.  They inspired me to work harder."

 

While many of her siblings had great high school careers it was Kelly who set herself apart from the other eight children by becoming the only college athlete.

              

"I'm the only person from my hometown to ever play Division I athletics at a major university," said Albers.  "It was a lot of hard work and I knew when I came to OU I'd have to get even better to compete for time on this team."

 

Even though Albers has the experience of rising from a small town she still felt the preseason was a major adjustment.

 

"It was frustrating at first because in high school I played a vital role for our team," stated Albers.  "Now I'm just working as hard as I can to get better."

 

When asked what besides her family has helped her bring a mature presence to this year's squad, Albers quickly points to her club volleyball career.

 

"Coach Kalani Mahi has told me my club experience, more than my high school has helped me be ready for the long season," said Albers.  "We traveled all over to tournaments in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago facing high quality teams, much like our Sooner squad does."

 

Part of maturity is willingness to learn, either from coaches or teammates, and Albers has come in from the first day with a strong desire to get better.

 

"The coaching staff is very encouraging, while at the same being great teachers," said Albers.  "They really work at helping us with both our strong points and weak points."

 

In Albers case, the coaching staff has been helping her specifically focus on her hitting technique.

 

"They've been working with me a lot on my arm swing," said Albers.  "I need to become more consistent.  I've been working hard to be an efficient attacker like (teammate) Joanna Schmitt. I want to be in the starting rotation with her in the future."

 

While Albers believes the Sooner coaches are the key to her development she doesn't exclude the importance of chemistry with her teammates.

 

"I really love my teammates," said Albers.  "They are what separated OU from other schools I looked at.  I've never been on a team that enjoys playing together as much we do."

              

Albers plays an important role in the Sooner family even though she isn't on the court.  The team expects her to contribute, a fact that isn't lost on the freshman.

 

"Right now my job on the team is to add depth and get better", said Albers.  "I know during games I'm counted on to be a great teammate.  I scream and encourage as loud as anyone. I also vocalize to the girls what I'm seeing from the sideline."

 

The coaching staff has taken notice of the presence Albers has brought this season.             

 

"What has impressed us the most about Kelli is her maturity," said assistant coach Christy Mahi.  "Her emotions are even keel and she doesn't hit those high highs or low lows that others do. She is always competing but at the same time is such a great teammate and very encouraging of others."

 

Being in a close-knit group that depends on each other is second nature to Albers and she has been important in bringing a family atmosphere to this year's squad.

 

"Albers brings a sense of family to the team," said Mahi.  "We were a little worried how this team would mesh with so many newcomers this season.  Albers has come in and treated players and her coaches as her family away from home.  We are excited to have added such a hard worker and good teammate to this program."

 

 

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