There might not be a more violent play in volleyball than the spike.
Watch Lake Zurich’s Kiley McPeek. Her swings are as hard as they come.
“She’s a blast to watch,” coach Matt Aiello said. “She hits really fast.”
Patrolling the left side for a loaded Lake Zurich team, McPeek can launch a shot from the front row, back row or middle of the court. Like a baseball pitcher with a quick delivery, the Bears’ outside hitter can catch her opponents off guard with her rapid wind up and finish.
Case in point — the Bears played Stevenson Sept. 25. Early in the match’s first game, McPeek moved forward to receive a set from senior Kristen Walding. She jumped with both feet, swinging with her right arm. After her hand made contact with the ball, it flew over the net in less than a second.
The velocity caught Patriots senior Grace Duffy off guard. Unable to react in time, the ball hit her in the back of the head. Duffy was OK, and the Bears won the point.
The sequence showed how much of a game-changer McPeek is on the court. Her ability to take over a match is a product of talent and training.
“Last season I couldn’t jump that well. My vertical (leap) was lacking,” said McPeek, who stands 5-foot-10.
Soon after her junior season ended, McPeek designed a program to strengthen her legs. Several times a week, she worked out at Sky High, her club team located in Crystal Lake.
“We would do lots of (plyometrics). I would jump off the floor, sometimes over hurdles or over lines on the court,” McPeek said. “It was for power and for height.”
On days she wasn’t working out at Sky High, she’d lift weights at the high school gym. McPeek would do bench presses to build muscle around her chest, shoulders and triceps, and squats to strengthen her hamstrings and quadriceps. She also did a significant amount of abdominal exercises to strengthen her core.
This three-dimensional approach — lower, middle and upper body — resulted in a stronger, more athletic build, constructed for doing damage on a volleyball court.
“The bench presses allowed me to get better (shoulder) torque,” McPeek said. “Squatting helps me with my vertical, to get higher around the net.”
That makes her a favorite target of sets from Walding, Lake Zurich’s all-time leader in assists.
“I can always give her the ball in a tight situation. I can count on her to get a kill and keep the ball alive,” Walding said. “She’s grown so much as a player.”
A likely winner of the NSC Lake, the Bears are poised for a long postseason run. If they are to do what Libertyville did in 2012 — make it downstate — they will need McPeek to continue her hard-hitting ways.
“I don’t want to hit a ball half-hearted. I want to hit hard every game,” McPeek said. “I put my all into every ball and every point.”