Contributed by Zane Miller exclusively for VolleyballMag.com
Kallie Seimet has the most digs this season in NCAA Division I women’s college volleyball.
The Bowling Green junior libero got 44 of them in a five-set, Mid-American Conference win against Northern Illinois.
“She was a stud against us,” NIU coach Ray Gooden said. “She’s pretty much a ball magnet defensively. She definitely has been taking advantage of her opportunities, and that’s what you want to see out of any kid you coach or compete against. “
Seimet, who has 680 digs in 25 matches, is averaging 6.81 digs per set, also tops in the NCAA. Second in both categories goes to Illinois State junior libero Courtney Pence, who has 670 digs and averages 6.32.
“My teammates are doing really well this season,” Seimet said. “The team in general is just making it way easier for me to get all those digs, so having them there and then doing reps in the offseason helped me be ready for the season.”
Not surprisingly, Seimet has been the MAC East defensive player of the week a whopping seven times this season.
“You think about (awards) when they come out, but I’m not really thinking about them during the games,” Seimet said. “After then you see them, you’re like, ‘Oh cool,’ but then you just kind of move on.”
“Kallie is a fun kid who loves the game,” Bowling Green coach Danijela Tomic said. “Go through the photos that our photographers take throughout the match won’t find one where Kallie is not smiling. That’s not always the case with players. She enjoys the game, loves the game, loves to play. “
Bowling Green (15-10) is tied for first with Miami at 11-3 atop the MAC East standings. The Falcons finish their regular season this weekend, playing at Akron on Friday and at Buffalo on Saturday.
Akron coach Tom Hanna knows what to expect. His team was swept by Bowling Green earlier this season as Seimet had 21 digs.
“Kallie is probably the top libero in a conference full of very good ones,” Hanna said. “She has a great balance of technical ability on both serve receive and defense. I’m always impressed with her defensive range while being committed to playing within their system and not trying to do too much.”
The 5-foot-8 Seimet is from Oregon, Ohio, which is about 24 miles north of Bowling Green, close to Toledo. Her passion for volleyball began at a young age.
“It was a YMCA league and I was big into soccer when I was younger,” Seimet said. “One of my friends was wanting to try out a different sport and I was like ‘OK, we could try it.’ It was with one of those small teams that you would practice with once a week, but I loved it. I loved the process of getting better each day.”
She played at Clay High School and 2014 her Premier Volleyball Academy club team took second in AAU nationals in the 18 Premier division.
“I don’t live far from here and in my recruiting process, this was my first school,” Seimet said. “I just kind of came here and committed right away, I didn’t really have a process, it just happened super fast. I liked the campus, I liked the coaches and the team that was here was really nice, everything just kind of felt good, it was nice to have my parents be able to come to my games.”
As a freshman in 2015, Seimet played in all 29 of Bowling Green’s matches and led the team in digs at 4.38 per set, which ranked eighth in the MAC.
“It was awesome,” Seimet said. “Every freshman wants to come in and play and make their mark on the team, so it was really cool, it’s been a great couple of years.”
Last year her grade-point average of 3.742 earned Seimet all-MAC academic honors, but on the court she was beaten out at libero by Maddie Garda, who had a tremendous season. We had this story about Garda last year, as she, too, led the NCAA in digs.
Seimet played as a defensive specialist.
“The biggest growth I’ve seen in Kallie this year is her leadership,” Tomic said. “That’s something that we’ve been working on since freshman year and she is doing a much better job directing our defense in the back row and talking to the team and being a better leader.
“She always had great serve-receive skills and she has probably the reading skills when it comes to defense with the way she reads the game. How much she stepped up in that leadership role is what I am the most proud of.”
And she worked hard to simply be a better player.
“She practiced all summer. She went to old club Premier and was in their gym all smmer in open gyms.” Tomic said. “ … One of the things she has added more this year is watching video. She watches video more than she has done in the past. That’s another brick she’s added into her personal development and it’s showing with the way she is playing.”
A young Bowling Green team had a tough preseason, finishing 4-7, losing in five to UIC, Sacramento State and Seattle, but the Falcons beat Northern Kentucky and Seton Hall in five. Clearly the team was battle tested entering the MAC.
“I knew that our team was going to be good,” Seimet said. “I put in a lot of work in the spring and the summer, so I knew that it was going to be a good season, I didn’t know how good, but since our team’s doing so well it’s just kind of fallen into place for me.”
The stretch run is now upon the Falcons, who have an NCAA RPI ranking of 124, so clearly they must finish strong and then win the MAC tournament and its automatic bid to get into the NCAA Tournament.
“I think we need to focus on ourselves, going back to what we know and what’s gotten us this far in the season,” Seimet said. “Being disciplined and doing the small things right, that’s a big thing that our team does is really the stuff that you don’t notice. That’s what makes us a step ahead of the other teams, so I think just focusing on us and doing job will be good.”
The same level of focus will be key as the team goes into the MAC Tournament November 16-19 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
“We’ve just got to keep playing our game and keep focusing,” Seimet said. “For us as a team, that’s our strong suit is us playing together, so keeping that momentum just really makes it hard for the other teams to get us down or get us out of the game.”