Last Updated: Sat Oct 30, 2021 - 2:46AM
During her time at Penn-Trafford, Samantha Kelly excelled on the volleyball court. Following her career with the Warriors, she’s been instrumental in back-to-back championship seasons for Westminster College. Kelly is the latest feature on the Westmoreland Alum Q&A.
Kelly earned her first varsity letter with Penn-Trafford in 2015, as the team went 7-5 in section play, but failed to qualify for the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
In 2016, however, she helped guide the Warriors to a section mark of 7-3, earning a berth in the WPIAL Class 4A bracket. The Warriors fell 3-1 to Baldwin in the opening round, however.
As a senior in 2017, Kelly propelled Penn-Trafford to a section record of 8-2, and another playoff appearance. However, the Warriors lost to Upper Saint Clair 3-1 in the Class 4A first round to conclude the season. For her play, Kelly was honored as a First-Team All-Section performer, and a Third-Team All-WPIAL honoree.
After her graduation, Kelly joined the team at Westminster College as a setter for the 2018 campaign. As a freshman, she played in 31 matches and produced 483 assists, which ranked ninth in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC), go to with 18 service aces and 212 digs. That season, the Titans went 30-4, including 15-1 in the PAC. Westminster reached the PAC Championship match, but fell to Bethany. From there, Westminster competed in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Tournament, but came up short against Lebanon Valley in the quarterfinals to conclude the campaign.
In 2019, Kelly played in all 33 matches, notching 578 assists, 36 aces, and 280 digs. Subsequently, she was named All-PAC Honorable Mention. The Titans went 13-3 in the PAC, and defeated Saint Vincent College and Geneva College to claim the conference title. As a result, the Titans qualified for the NCAA Division III Tournament, but lost to Susquehanna in the first round to finish at 26-7.
COVID prompted the traditional 2020 fall season to be pushed to this past spring. In 10 matches, Kelly compiled 224 assists, eight aces, and 80 digs, and was named All-PAC First-Team. Playing a conference-only ledger, the Titans went 8-0 during the regular season, and then bested Washington & Jefferson and Grove City College to repeat as PAC Champions.
This season, Kelly has appeared in all 27 matches, amassing 42 kills, 833 assists, 45 aces, 269 digs, and 22 blocks. To this point, the Titans are 23-4, including a perfect 15-0 in the PAC.
Samantha dedicated time from her schedule to answer questions about how her role has evolved at Westminster, her parents’ impact in her athletic success, and which actress she’d select to portray herself in a movie.
Q: What are your best attributes on the court?
A: I believe that I am a steady and reliable player. I bring a lot of experience to the court, as well.
Q: How has your role evolved throughout your time with the Titans?
A: My role has evolved greatly. I went from being the second setter in a 6-2 offense my freshman year to the starting one, and eventually, a captain by my junior year. I had to develop leadership and communication skills as my role on the team developed.
Q: You were twice named to the All-PAC team. What did those honors mean to you?
A: It means a lot to have all of the hard work I’ve put in to be recognized. The position I play isn’t necessarily considered a “glory” position the way hitting is, so it’s nice to get credit at the end of the season.
Q: Westminster has enjoyed tremendous team success during your career. What are the biggest factors in that?
A: My class came into a team that had developed a winning mindset and culture, and we learned that from them and continued to pass it down. We also have a strong team chemistry that shows when we play.
Q: What team and individual goals did you set for 2021?
A: Our team goal is to ultimately win a third conference championship, and to remain focused and disciplined. Individually, my goals were to be more talkative on the court and improve my leadership skills.
Q: What led to your decision to attend Westminster?
A: The campus felt like my home away from home and the education was a good fit.
Q: What is your major, and ideal future profession?
A: I’m a political science major, and I want to pursue a career in policy analysis
Q: What has been your most enjoyable college class?
A: I really enjoy the geopolitics class I’m in right now. It’s about international conflict and the politics of geography.
Q: Your mother was a volleyball player and coach. How did your parents impact your athletic career?
A: My mom has inspired me to be the best version of myself, on and off the court. Through volleyball and coaching, she has taught me how to be a strong woman, and she has used sports as a way to teach my brother and I very important life lessons. My father is an avid sports fan, and he always pushed me to be the best I can be on and off court, as well.
Q: What was your fondest memory from Penn-Trafford?
A: Winning the section my senior year. We had to beat Norwin to do it, and beating your rival in that situation is always fun.
Q: Who was the best individual player you faced in high school?
A: Maria Ferragonio. She set for Norwin and was two classes ahead of me. I probably chose her because she’s the same position as me, and she was really good at it.
Q: If you could change one rule about college volleyball, what would it be?
A: More clarification on the double contact rule - it’s very grey and changes ref to ref. Also, if there is an overpass, there isn’t much opportunity for the setter to bring the ball back without having a back row attack call, and I think she should have that opportunity.
Q: What is your favorite social media app?
A: TikTok - it makes passing time easy.
Q: Who would you choose to portray yourself in a movie?
A: Emma Watson.
Q: What is your favorite vacation spot, or a place you've always wanted to go?
A: Cape May, New Jersey because it’s a family tradition to go every other year with my grandmother’s entire family.