Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.
KINNIKINNICK — Throughout her three years at Zane Trace, Kinley May hasn’t appeared in many headlines and she probably hasn’t been the focal point of many opponent’s game plans.
But make no mistake about it; she’s been directly at the center of the Pioneers’ volleyball success.
During that time period, and rather quietly, May has worked to become one of the region’s overall best while aiding her team to three sectional championships and an overall record of 52-23.
Under the radar. Underrated. Underestimated. But never unable to perform at the highest level.
And the work to get better is never done.
“Everyday in the gym, I’m working on my defense. My biggest goal is to eliminate as many errors as possible on defense and to work towards 1,000 digs,” May said. “Heading into senior year is a huge wake-up call. It’s our last chance to leave a footprint and that can be terrifying. But, my last chance is also a huge motivator.”
Finding motivation has never been a problem for May. However, this fall, she’ll be working towards a goal that comes with a new motivating factor — one that outweighs all others.
May enters her senior year with 1,255 career assists.
Last fall, she posted her single-season career high of 505 — alongside 46 kills, 53 aces, 28 blocks and 204 digs.
Now, all of the sudden, 2,000 assists is in reach and that number would put her in elite company.
“Reaching 2,000 assists would mean the absolute world to me. That goal never leaves my thoughts. I dreamed of 1,000 assists since I was in fourth grade and started playing club ball. I reached that my junior year and dedicated it to younger me,” May said. “Now, I want the next milestone for my brother Collin, who passed away in November. He was one of my absolute biggest supporters. He loved to watch me play and cheer me on from the stands. I can’t even begin to explain how that would feel for me or how bad I want to achieve that for him.”
Last season, Zane Trace finished 19-6 overall and 10-4 in the Scioto Valley Conference. For the third straight season, the Pioneers reached a district final but walked away with a loss.
Getting past that point is on top of the team’s goal list in 2022.
“This season, I expect the competition to be tight. Many teams are looking for younger players to step up,” May said. “Everyone will be in about the same position. So, it’s really a matter of who wants it the most. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do and where we’ll go. We haven’t made it past the district championship yet and that’s a huge goal for this season.”
But first, the SVC title will be in the team’s crosshairs. Zane Trace hasn’t won a league title since 2012.
“Winning the SVC has been our goal every year. We’ve fallen short for three years now but we have girls really stepping up and taking on new roles,” May said. “[ZT] Coach [Cyndi] Davis always tells us that we’re the group that’s going to do something and we believe it. It would be the best way to end our last season and to do it for her and our school.”
The Pioneers certainly have the talent to reach that goal.
Back in the fold this season is a band of veterans in May, Lexi Scott, Gracey McCullough, Alexis Farley and Delaney Berry, among others.
“Everyday we’re in the gym, our coaches are pushing us hard and we are pushing each other to be our absolute best,” May said. “There are eight seniors this year who all are working for a position and to help the team succeed this upcoming season. We’ve always had high expectations for ourselves and from others. This year is our last opportunity to win the league title.”
May knows that’s easier said than done and her Pioneers will have their work cut out for them, but they’ve never backed down from a challenge and they won’t start now.
ZT begins its regular season on Aug. 20 at Logan Elm before the home opener on Aug. 23 against New Hope Christian.
That’s the start of this team’s journey. Its destination is yet to be determined.
“As a team, I really think we can do something this fall,” May said. “Nobody is to be underestimated. That’s been proven to us time and time again,” May said. “It doesn’t matter if they are at the bottom of the league or if you beat them in the first round. It’s a matter of who shows up focused and ready to bring their all that night. The competition is tough all the time. Relaxed play will get you nowhere in the SVC.”