Set up for a big future
The growth was expected, the timing might not have been, but ultimately nobody associated with Kelsi Wingo was complaining.
Coming up to the Barbers Hill varsity volleyball team as a sophomore, Wingo was expected to contribute for sure, but to the level she ended up doing? That might have been a major bonus.
Wingo stepped in early to replace injured senior setter Trinity Hennigan – the eventual 2019 Baytown Sun Select Team Volleyball Player of the Year – through two tournaments and part of a third and turned a lot of heads running the 5-1 offense.
“Our team is a great group of girls that are so caring and so loving, and I was grateful that they welcomed me and for them to have my back,” Wingo said. “They helped me push me to do my best and a huge part for me doing my best this year.”
Once Hennigan returned, the two combined for a strong 6-2 attack as Wingo contributed an impressive 707 assists despite sharing the setter role for most of the season and registered 292 digs, 225 kills, 58 aces and 19 blocks while hitting .364. That has led to Wingo now being a NCAA Division II and III recruit with bigger profiles expected to eventually come calling.
It also makes her the 2019-20 Baytown Sun’s No. 4 player in the Top Newcomer of the Year rankings.
“I believe that she is a force to be reckoned with,” former Barbers Hill and current Fort Bend Austin head coach Kristin Goodman said. “She can contribute effectively to the team through her sets, hits, serves, and defense. She is a multi-dimensional setter who played a critical role. She stepped up at the beginning of the season and didn’t miss a beat in doing so. She instantly looked like she belonged, like she had a ton of experience on a varsity team. Then when we started running a 6-2 offense, Kelsi excelled on the right side.
“As a left-handed hitter, she was that extra weapon we didn’t even know that we needed. She is a firecracker and has a drive and competitive edge that riled up her teammates when it was needed! Without Kelsi on the court this year, we would have not gone undefeated in district.”
The area-playoff bound Lady Eagles defeated Goose Creek Memorial the previous round and their former and now Barbers Hill head coach Casey Veen.
“I am saying this as an opposing coach, rather than her new coach,” Veen said. “Kelsi’s volleyball IQ is
extremely high for someone just starting out on an elite team. She is able to anticipate not only her opponents’ shots, but also where her team is going to lead her. As the setter nothing could shake her focus or level of play. She can read a defense and execute when needed. It seemed like whatever skill was at hand; blocking, serving, setting, hitting, or passing, it is effortless.
“She is by far one of the best up and coming players in the area.”
Wingo took the opportunity to step in for Hennigan as a personal opportunity as well as foremost, a duty to team as she stepped into Hennigan’s role.
“Trinity is so good and I knew once she got hurt that it was my turn and had to fill in because she couldn’t be there for us: She is our captain and our leader,” Wingo said. “I had to play for two people. I already had been, that past club season, I ran a 5-1 and had experience with it. I started playing with these older kids and saw that they trust me, and they know my skill set and know that I am good, so I am going to go and run with it. I was going to play my best and I could feel it in me. That was some of my best volleyball that come out. From there out, that carried me through the season.
“I knew I had to be there for my team to succeed, but I am also going to take the chance I have and get better for it. I had a lot more weight to carry and helped me become a better player.”
Wingo is a “big fan” of both setting and hitting but will do whatever the team needs her to do.
“Being in a 5-1 is great because I get into a groove, but if we have another great setter that can set great balls to me on the right side, then I am good for hitting too,” Wingo said.
Wingo believes she can always get better through club ball and with the Lady Eagles and that’s with an eye on the prize.
“Next year, I want to be setter of the year for district and maybe senior year get MVP,” Wingo said. “I just want to go hard and get my name out there. The ultimate goal is college. These years are for me to get ready to dominate and be a good player in college and get it paid for. Club ain’t cheap.”