Kayleigh Kitchen has led the Cherokee girls’ volleyball team to a 15-0 record.
The 6-foot senior hitter leads the Chiefs with 147 kills and is among the top players on the squad with 85 digs and 16 blocks.
Kitchen was a cheerleader for most of her life. She decided to try volleyball in the summer before her freshman year at Cherokee.
Q: What’s been the key to the team’s success?
A: We have a group of seniors who are friends in volleyball, friends in school and friends in life. Chemistry is so important in volleyball. You can have all the talent, but if you don’t have that chemistry you won’t be as successful as you could be.
Q: How much does that camaraderie improve the atmosphere around the team?
A: It makes it awesome. When you win with people who really care about each other, it makes it 10 times better.
Q: Are you surprised your team is still undefeated after 15 games?
A: A little bit. I knew we had the talent but after last year when we struggled a little bit I was still a little skeptical. We’re kind of exceeding expectations.
Q: Did you really give up cheerleading to become a volleyball player?
A: I did. Growing up, I was always known as the ‘tall one.’ People would always say, ‘Do you play basketball?’ Going into high school, I thought I might try something new. I had some friends who were going to an open gym for volleyball in the summer before freshman year, and I went, and I just loved it.
Q: Right away?
A: Right away. It was just something that clicked with me. It was the sport for me.
Q: Since you started relatively late, do you feel like you still have a lot of room for improvement?
A: I do. I hope to play in college, and I think with the right coach, the right training, I can get so much better.
Q: Do you have any rituals or superstitions?
A: I was always the cheerleader, so I was always the one making bows for other people. Last year, I had some friends make a white and orange bow for me with polka dots. I have to wear it every game.
Q: Do you have any interests outside of school and volleyball?
A: I love fine art. I love painting. Sometimes, me and my mom (Lisa) will just get a canvas and paint.
Q: What’s your favorite subject in school?
A: I love chemistry, and I love calculus. Those are my all-time favorite subjects. It’s just something about numbers that works with me. It just clicks with me.
Q: You have a favorite movie?
A: We’re big movie people in my family. We’re quoting movies all the time. My all-time favorite is “Momma Mia!” because everybody can sing along.
Q: Who has been your biggest inspiration?
A: My parents first of all, but then my two older brothers (James and Charles). They both are great lacrosse players. Both are playing at Division I colleges, and I’ve always looked up to them. I saw their work ethic, how hard they worked to be successful, and it made me want to work as hard as I could be be successful too.