Floyd Central senior Kyndall Merritt has the perfect spot from which to see the action on the Floyd Central varsity volleyball team: the back row. Kyndall is a libero on the team, which is a specialized defensive position. The libero takes control of the back row, and more or less directs traffic.
True to her defensive position as a libero, Merritt said her strengths are being pretty quick on her feet, and being able to respond to where the ball is going. She listed her serve as her main weakness.
Floyd Central head coach Bart Powell expects a lot out of the team, and Merritt likes the high expectations.
“Every day, he tells me that I need to be the one to take charge,” Merritt said of the coach-player relationship she has with Powell.
She describes Powell as “very ambitious,” and said he pushes them to be their very best all of the time. “We know he wants us to be the best we can be,” she says. Practice is three hours after school when they don’t have a match scheduled.
It’s not like the players never have any lighter moments with their coach. She explained that recently, they were conditioning along with Powell, when all of the players and he were running up the stairs. Powell tripped and fell, provoking laughter from the players on hand. Not to worry, Powell survived and has been coaching them in every game this season.
With four other seniors on the team, Merritt is surrounded by excellent senior leadership in addition to herself.
The other seniors on the squad are Rachel Engle, Ashleigh Libs, Jamie Wallace, and Morgan Wilson. Merritt describes the five seniors as a close knit bunch, but she stresses that the entire team gets along well.
“We’re all pretty friendly with each other,” she explained.
As a freshman, Merritt was on a team that went to the Final Four, but she didn’t play all that much as a freshman. She did play a lot her sophomore season (2010), and the excitement and expectations of that season remain with her.
“You could just feel the tension,” she explained of the games during that season. “You could feel everybody getting stressed.” She added that the crowds were so large; it put the pressure on immediately.
But, what did Merritt do to get to this exalted position, you ask?
She has plenty of experience playing club ball. There is a lot of travel involved in this, and the club teams are not affiliated with the school teams.
Merritt said she started playing at age nine or 10 on the Union team for her age group, and then went on to play for Highland Hills Middle School, and now plays for a Kiva club team in Louisville, Kentucky, besides her floyd Central High School team.
The biggest difference between club play and the high school season is that there is a lot more travel involved in the club version, and she thinks that the competition is greater on the club level. You also get more college coaches watching the players on the club circuit.
With all of the year round play, Merritt said that it can be a little overwhelming at times. What keeps her going through the whirl of activity is her love of volleyball. She said it’d be hard to part with it.
“It’s a joy to have something you’re decent at; I’d never give it up in a million years,” she said.
This year, the team is playing without the services of Indiana University freshman Jennifer Smith, who Merritt described as being her best friend on the team last year. The two are destined to be reunited as Merritt will be playing volleyball for Indiana University next year as a freshman.
Her main goal at the moment is to just get better a little every day, and she thinks this year’s version of the Lady Highlanders is capable of getting back to the Final Four. “I think we can do it,” she said. “We’re all trying to be the best we can be.”
She also sees the future of Floyd Central volleyball as being very bright. She sees several strong young players coming up, and thinks that they’ll be strong next year, too.
Keeping up with Kyndall
Merritt lists January 19, 1994 as her birth date, and her mother is Stacy Merritt.
She has a younger brother named Keegan, and an older sister named Kacy. She enjoys hanging out with her friends, too.
She enjoys steak and crab legs as her favorite foods, and she lists Destin, Florida as her favorite vacation spot. Her favorite pro athlete is volleyball player Carrie Walsh, and the subject she likes best in school is math.
Other favorites: movie (Remember the Titans), television (My Wife and Kids), music (classic rock), and her favorite book is She Said Yes, by Misty Bernao.