As one of the best to ever come through the storied St. Francis girls volleyball program, Kelsey Robinson took large expectations with her to the next level.
That pressure hasn’t seemed to faze the 6-foot-2 outside hitter, who has more than lived up to the hype. But now she faces a major change as she awaits her final collegiate season this fall.
A three-year standout at Tennessee, Robinson will suit up for the red and white of Nebraska in 2013 after transferring last January for the second semester. The Huskers were the runner-up when she first made a college decision in high school.
“A few things went into it,” said Robinson, who also looked at Texas, USC, UCLA and Oregon among others this time around. “Ultimately, Tennessee was not the best situation for me at that time. When I made my decision to move on, I wanted to compete at the highest level and that is ultimately why I ended up at Nebraska.
“Nebraska is known for its tradition and the way they train and perform every year. It’s a high standard and the expectations are the same every year. They train so hard and there is no hesitation about what they want to accomplish.”
As for Robinson, what she was able to accomplish for the Volunteers was impressive. She departed as one of only five players in program history to total more than 1,000 kills and digs.
But reaching that high standard wasn’t always easy.
“I think the biggest thing coming in is that you don’t understand the big leap from high school to college,” Robinson said. “The biggest thing at the college level is the speed of the game is a lot faster and also the physicality of the game, you are now playing against women. You are playing against big girls who know what shots to play and who know their bodies.”
As a sophomore, Robinson became the first Tennessee player to be selected as the SEC Player of the Year. She was also a second-team All-American pick that year.
“To be the first one, that was an honor,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it at all. We were also SEC champs that year for the first time outright and that was the best part of it. That (Player of the Year award) was icing on the cake.”
Set to begin practice for the 2013 season in early August, the journalism major is hoping to finish on a high note. Then the goal switches to playing in the professional ranks.
Robinson got a taste of that level when she was invited to train with the U.S. National Team and head coach Karch Kiraly in California for three weeks in May.
“It was amazing,” Robinson said. “To play with people you have been watching your whole life was really awesome. It was a great experience. I learned so much and I tried to take it all in and apply it.
“They were all very nice. I got starstruck at first but then I was like, ‘I’m here to play volleyball.’”