2020 Volleyball Player of the Year: Wildcats' Kaminski becomes all-around force

By Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net
Blue Springs junior Chloe Kaminski, front, who has verbally committed to Oklahoma, is already a two-time Examiner Volleyball Player of the Year.

The great volleyball legacy at Blue Springs High School remains in good hands as junior Chloe Kaminski has surpassed the ranks of many former Wildcat standouts like Lisa Henning and Morgan Reynolds by winning her second consecutive Examiner Volleyball Player of the Year award.

The 5-foot-9 outside hitter might not be the most intimidating player on the court in pregame warmups, but coach Katie Straka says that ends once the match starts.

“If you don’t know Chloe, you might look out on the court and see her and think, ‘That’s nice she made varsity,’ because she is not an intimidating player until she starts to play,” Straka said.

“You might get a hint of what she can do on the court once the match starts by listening to her talk to her teammates during warmups. She has such a high volleyball IQ and I’ll hear her talk about something we talked about or work on at practice, and I just smile because it’s hard to say what IT is, but Chloe has IT.”

Kaminski certainly has the credentials to earn her second player of the year award, including making a verbal commitment to play volleyball at NCAA Division I power Oklahoma. She has become one of the top all-around players in the state.

“She’s a six-rotation player, and even though she is an outside hitter, she might have a greater impact on the back row,” Straka said. “She led our team in just about every category and she never left the court.”

Kaminski led the Wildcats in kills (288), hitting percentage (.310), aces (29), digs (353) and blocks (13).

She was first-team Class 5 all-state, all-district and all-conference and has slowly grown into one of the Wildcats’ leaders – on and off the court.

“I have to be honest with you,” Kaminski said, “I never, ever thought that I would win this award two years in a row. It’s so special. When Coach Straka called and told me, I was super shocked.

“There are so many deserving players in the area, I’m still shocked. And I have to admit, that winning it a second time is even more special than winning it the first time.”

Throughout her successful volleyball career, Kaminski said she has been an underdog, and that has made her even more determined to succeed.

“I’m not tall, I’m not intimidating,” she said, chuckling, “but I use my brain out on the court. I look at angles and spacing and try to find the open areas on the court.”

And her success on the back row, where she will play for the Sooners, has helped become a more successful front row player.

Junior outside hitter Chloe Kaminski has become one of the best all-around players in the state for Blue Springs. The 2020 Examiner Volleyball Player of the Year rarely left the court as a six-rotation player.

“Playing the front and back rows make me a better all-around player,” Kaminski said. “A friend of mine on another team told me their coach places Xs on the court, showing where I might hit the ball.

“After our match, she came over to me and said, ‘You didn’t hit one ball where we thought you were going to.’ I always try to change things up, so our opponents can’t figure me out.”

When asked about her star player winning back-to-back Examiner Player of the Year honors, Straka said. “I don’t know if she can work any harder than she does now, but I know she’s going to work as hard as any player on our team, and I think if she stays healthy, she has a great chance of winning the award three years in a row.

“I don’t want to put any more pressure on her, but you can’t put any more pressure on Chloe than she puts on herself.’

“This past season meant so much to me, because so many of my friends lost out on their spring sports in 2020, or their first time to play college sports, because of COVID,” Kaminski said.

“When I found out we were going to play, I felt like I had a new passion for a sport that I have been passionate about for as long as I can remember. I’m going to work hard, you know me, and you know that I will always work hard, and winning a third player of the year award would be cool.

“But nothing is better than playing for Coach Straka and being a part of Blue Springs High School. And I get to talk about my high school, coaches and teammates when I win an award and that is special too.”

2020 Examiner All-Area Volleyball Team

FIRST TEAM

Anna Christenson, sr., L, Blue Springs — 423 digs (5 per set), 2.0 passing, 76 assists, 10 aces; all-district, All-Suburban Big Eight.

Ella Duchane, jr., MH, Blue Springs — 157 kills, 60 blocks, 15 aces, 90 percent serving; all-district, All-Suburban Big Eight.

Clara Gower, sr., L, Grain Valley — 556 digs, 86 aces (school record); all-district, all-Suburban Middle Six, MO-KAN All-Star selection; committed to Quincy University.

Chloe Kaminski, jr., OH, Blue Springs — 288 kills (3.63 per set), .310 hitting percentage, 353 digs (4.3 per set), 13 blocks, 29 aces, 95% serving, 2.0 passing; MHSVCA Class 5 All-State, all-district, All-Suburban Big Eight, committed to University of Oklahoma; 2019 and 2020 Examiner Player of the Year.

Aubrey LaPour, jr., OH, Blue Springs South — 281 kills, 160 digs, 24 blocks, 13 aces, .267 hitting percentage; MHSVCA Class 5 All-State, all-district, All-Suburban Big Eight, MO-Kan All-Star selection, Evelyn Gates Award nominee, signed with Division I Bryant University.

Lily Letchworth, jr., S, Blue Springs — 762 assists (9 per set), 252 digs (3 per set), 113 kills, 22 blocks, 36 aces, 97 percent serving; MHSVCA Class 5 All-State, all-district, All-Suburban Big Eight.

Tamia McClunie, sr., MH, Blue Springs South — 125 kills, 51 blocks, 4 aces, .246 hitting percentage; all-district, All-Suburban Big Eight.

Sarina Ulberg, jr., MH/S, Truman — 305 kills (3.21 per set), 332 assists (3.5 per set), .310 hitting percentage, 84 blocks, 62 aces; all-district, All-Suburban Middle Six.

Olivia Williams, jr., OH, Grain Valley — 271 kills, 266 digs, 33 aces, 18 blocks; all-district, All-Suburban Middle Six.

SECOND TEAM

Addison Baumgartner, jr., OH, Grain Valley

Cali Bokenkroger, sr., S, St. Michael the Archangel

Nicole Davis, sr., L, Truman

Maya Fergerson, soph., OH/RS, Blue Springs

Kylie Gregory, sr., OH, Blue Springs South

Sanoma Hunter, soph., MB, Van Horn

Kellie Overturf, jr., MH, Grain Valley

Maddie Sibbing, soph., MH, Lee's Summit North

Kendra Siefker, sr., OH, Fort Osage

Marti Strickert, jr., S, Blue Springs South

Courtney Taylor, jr., RS/S, William Chrisman

Lily Vanbebber, fresh., OH/RS, St. Michael the Archangel

Jalyn Walruff, jr., OH/RS, Blue Springs

HONORABLE MENTION

Blue Springs: Brittany Whetstone, sr., M/RS; Grain Valley: Addi Bybee, soph., RS; Dru Iles, soph., S; Kelly Kilpatrick, sr., DS; Madelyn Morris, sr., S; Lee's Summit North: Paige Huhman, sr., MH; Bailey Willis, sr., L; Oak Grove: Autumn Hearn, sr., S; Destiny Valentine, sr., RS; Kealyn Wilkinson, sr., OH; Truman: Laila Tatum, sr., RS; Van Horn: Aimee Hanes, sr., OH; Erika Parrish, jr., MB; William Chrisman: Brooklyn Burkey, jr., S/RS; Patience Farmer, sr., L; Mele Taula, soph., OH.