Spartans rally after Burkey’s 1,000th kill

Spartans rally after Burkey’s 1,000th

By Tom Williams


Moments after being given the game ball to commemorate her 1,000th kill, Boardman senior volleyball player Kaylin Burkey raced into the stands to present the trophy to her grandparents (Jim and Joyce Morain) for safekeeping.

“They are the most dedicated grandparents in the world,” Burkey said. “They come to games whether they are 20 minutes away or [more than an hour]. They are at every single match at every single season.”

The gesture was appropriate as Burkey’s other family — her teammates — rallied to take charge in Tuesday’s five-game match against Fitch. Burkey was not feeling 100 percent — she’s nursing a hip injury. “She couldn’t jump by the end of the match,” Boardman coach Danielle Siembida said after the Spartans won by scores of 22-25, 18-25, 25-23, 25-20 and 15-13. “She’s in so much pain.”

Burkey finished with 14 kills, two blocks, two aces and 27 digs.

“Typically, she carries the offense, so everyone else around her had to pick up their games,” Siembida said. “They are not used to that, but that’s what we want to see from them.

“It just took them a lot a longer than we were hoping — that was painful.”

Two players who answered the call were Madison Ricciuti with six kills and Hannah Nawrocki with eight kills and six blocks.

“They don’t get a lot of glory, they don’t get a lot of sets,” Siembida said. “They got more tonight and they did a great job of putting the ball down when they had the opportunity.”

Nawrocki, also a senior, called Burkey the “cement” that holds the team together.

“When we’re falling apart or having a rough time, she finds away to bring everybody up,” Nawrocki said. “She can get intense but we know what’s in her heart because she cares about the game. She’s very passionate to win.”

The Spartans (9-1, 3-0 All-American Conference Red) came from way behind to get the win as the Falcons (3-3, 2-1) won the first two games.

With their backs to the wall, the Spartans surged. Maria Torres contributed 18 kills, 30 digs, two blocks and three aces. Katie Stamp made 30 digs and 11 kills while Raegan Burkey — Kaylin’s sister — made 52 assists and 12 digs.

For the Falcons, Lainie Simons made 32 digs and three kills while Chelsie Wheeler made 12 kills. Emma Bartlett made 16 digs and 32 assists while Alyssa Leskovac made 20 digs and four kills.

Burkey has a volleyball scholarship from California University of Pennsylvania where she will study civil engineering.

Burkey’s milestone came in the second game with Fitch ahead, 13-6. It was her eighth kill of the match.

Who better to explain exactly what a kill is than a four-year starter with 1,006 of them?

“When the ball is struck by an attacker and the other team either gets no touches and it goes inbounds or they have one touch with no control,” Burkey said.

The milestone, Burkey said, brought her some relief.

“We were so happy [but] we still have to win the game — it’s such an important match,” Burkey said of the Fitch rivalry.

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