Flying high

April 28 -May 4
VOL 124 NO. 16
Flying high
By Luke Eggleston/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Oswego senior volleyball stand-out heads to SU

OSWEGO — She’s already familiar with the blue, now she’ll just need to exchange the white for orange.

Emily Kaier, a parishioner at St. Joseph’s Church and a soon-to-be graduate of Oswego High School, recently signed a letter of intent to play volleyball at Syracuse University in the fall.

During the course of her scholastic career, Kaier accumulated numerous athletic honors. Her volleyball resume from this past season includes making first-team all-state, first-team all-league, first-team all-Section III, and team MVP honors.

“This is fantastic. I’m very happy for her family and for Emily herself. She’s going to a great academic institution – she’s an outstanding student – as well as going to a quality volleyball program,” Kaier’s high school coach Ron Ahart said. “I’m just so proud of her for what she’s done, what she’s accomplished. She’s going to do good things at SU and I think they’ll be very happy to have her.”

A three-time sectional champion high jumper, Kaier was heavily recruited by several track and field programs. She received inquiries from Duke, Harvard, Columbia and Yale.

She chose volleyball over track simply as a matter of personal preference.

“Volleyball has always been fun for me,” Kaier said. “I do track more to stay in shape for volleyball….I figured if I’m going to make a huge time commitment, I’d rather it was something that I like to do.”

Now Kaier will try to make the challenging leap from Onondaga League volleyball to the Big East.

“I’m very excited. I can’t wait until next year,” she said.

Syracuse finished the 2004 campaign with a 25-7 overall record (8-2, Big East). The Orange’s only conference losses were to Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, long the class programs of the league.

Other recent Central New Yorkers in Division I volleyball include Baldwinsville graduate Sade Chamber (University of Connecticut); Liverpool graduate Morgan Woodcock (Boston College); and Fulton graduate Erin Walker (University of New Hampshire).

With a 6-foot-2 an athletic frame, Kaier targets her strikes with unusual velocity, but what truly sets the Oswego senior apart is her uncanny location.

“She can put the ball in so many different places,” Ahart said. “She reads where the defense is coming from, whether it’s a single, double, or triple block and she knows how to work the ball against those defenses.”

At the scholastic level, Kaier was one of the most dominant blockers in the state, averaging 1.1 blocks per game during the course of her career. She led the Onondaga League (Class A) in kills per game (5.4) as well.

While she has the size and athleticism to play middle blocker, Kaier said Syracuse coach Jing Pu is considering moving her to the outside in order to take advantage of her stroke.

Kaier made enormous strides in digging and passing during the offseason between her junior and senior years. While her offense was missed when she rotated to the back line during her senior year, she was hardly a defensive liability and dug more than her fair share of balls.

“I think that was one of the things she wanted to work on was her passing and her blocking and her defense,” Ahart said. “She knew that if she wanted to go on to the Division I level she has to have a full package and she did that. She worked very hard in the club season last spring and worked very hard through the fall season. I think it showed when SU came looking for her.”

Syracuse begins the 2005 campaign with a challenging tournament at Boston College. Included in that tournament field is defending NCAA champion and perennial contender Stanford.

Ever since competing at the Empire State Games for the first time as a junior, Kaier has been looking forward to playing at the top level.

“It’s just such a higher level. To play at such a high level is so much more fun than high-school volleyball,” she said.

Ahart said his team is already looking forward to taking trips together to see Kaier play at SU.

“We’re very excited. The girls have already talked about us going down [to watch her play],” the coach said.

Kaier was the focal point of an outstanding high-school squad that earned a spot in the sectional final twice, once during her sophomore year and then again during her junior year. Her career record at the varsity level was 42-8. Six of those losses (three of them in sectionals) were to perennial central New York powerhouse Baldwinsville.

“She was part of a good core young group of volleyball players when she started playing year-round,” Ahart said. “But I think Emily was one of the players who started showing the other girls that if they started playing outside the season they could develop their skills. To watch her grow, she’s become a very strong blocker and hitter for us.”

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