SWEENY — In four seasons with the Sweeny Lady Dog volleyball team, Megan Kessler has come a long way.
Kessler, a 6-foot all-around player the past two seasons, has been a crucial part of the Lady Dogs’ successful season this year.
“Through the years I’ve just watched film a lot of myself and noticed what I needed to fix and how I could make myself better,” Kessler said. “In practice I would try to do anything that I could to keep improving. For me, I’ve tried working on everything that entails the game. I mean, I didn’t specifically target one thing, I just went after everything to try to improve all around.”
Kessler remembers first stepping onto the court with the varsity as a freshman.
“I wasn’t expecting much as a freshman, and I knew I had a lot of work to do even then,” she said. “But it was fun starting as a middle blocker as a freshman. I am just glad I got to experience that.”
This season the Lady Dogs are off to a 4-0 District 24-4A start and will attempt to match that same mark as the second half of district starts today when they host Brazosport.
“We are really young this year, but I couldn’t have asked for a better group to really just leave it out on the court,” Kessler said. “We had a rough start, but we’ve come together in district play. Last year we made it to second round for first time in my high school career, and this year I just want to go farther.”
In her first two seasons, Kessler mainly played front row, taking a break whenever her turn came to serve or play the back row. But in the past two seasons, she’s experienced what it takes to play back row and serve.
“I enjoyed front row a lot. I really enjoyed blocking and hitting the ball in those first two seasons,” she said. “But back row has been an experience for me because I’ve had to step in and work on my passing game.
“And even doing digs, before we used to have defensive players who were back there and took care of that, but I’ve taken over some of that and play that part too.”
Some of that proof was on display during a district match Oct. 7 against Columbia, as Kessler came up with big digs against Columbia’s big hitters.
“I’ve also been working on a top-spin serve and also just getting better at jump serving,” Kessler said. “Again, just a lot of hard work into that to just keep improving.”
Overall, Kessler has become a better all-around player, not taking much of a break now unless there is a timeout or in between sets.
“Just by being in the action a lot, I’ve been able to catch on to view the whole court and see where there are openings on the opposite side and places we can attack,” she said. “Playing varsity has helped me see the game in a different perspective just by reading opposing players and teams.
“Also by playing club volleyball, I was able to learn a lot of college plays, because they had me playing right side, and that also helped me get used to seeing the court from that side a lot better. Just by playing right side, I got a different view as to how that worked.”
Besides four seasons of volleyball, Kessler has also played softball. She roams the outfield for the Lady Dogs, and during her junior high days she wanted to play college softball.
But once she joined the volleyball team at the varsity level, that changed.
“As a freshman I just decided that maybe volleyball could be a sport that I wanted to pursue at the next level,” Kessler said. “I just enjoy the speed of the game of volleyball; it just really pumps me up. When I considered playing volleyball at the next level early on, a lot of coaches said it would be difficult to play volleyball and take nursing courses. So at that point I had decided that I was only playing volleyball in high school and was going to concentrate on my academics in college.
“But at the start of this season, in my last year, I just realized that I wasn’t going to be able to give up this game. So I decided that I will pursue playing in college now.”
On Monday, Kessler started that process by taking a trip to Brenham for a workout with the Blinn Lady Buc volleyball squad.
It was a convincing trip, as Kessler then made a verbal commitment to play next year for the Lady Bucs.
She still wants to pursue a nursing career and somehow knows everything will just work out, she said.
“If I do get to play at Blinn next year, then I might play two years and see what kind of offers I get after that,” she said. “If not, then I will just continue for school.”
Kessler has always enjoyed sports.
“Growing up in an athletic family, I just grew up around it,” she said. “It’s been a lot playing two sports in high school, what with studies and everything. For me it’s just been fun.”