When Kayla Agae played in just one set in Elon University volleyball’s season opener and none in the team’s second game, she wasn’t frazzled.
She didn’t look down on herself. She wasn’t frustrated. She wasn’t angry.
Instead, she accepted what was handed to her. She looked around and saw the strengths of the team and took on her role of supporter for the first weekend of the season.
“As a team, we’re so dynamic,” Agae said. “We can put anyone on the court and win. Those six that were on the court that first week were going to do that. I was going to be a teammate.”
Now, Agae is the furthest thing from someone who supports her teammates from the bench. Agae has played the entirety of Elon’s last few games, including some five-set matches. The sophomore outside hitter gives Elon a dependable presence in multiple spots on the court.
In Elon’s last five games, Agae has hammered down 64 kills, dug 70 balls and posted eight blocks.
“Kayla’s killing it,” said junior outside hitter Megan Gravley. “We can trust her so much on the court. The fact she can play back row then go front row and just kill it is really, really awesome. It’s hard to find that in a player.”
Agae, from Las Vegas, played in all 33 matches for Elon a year ago, so it’s odd that she barely saw the court in the first two games of this season. Through five games this season, Agae had managed just 16 kills while playing nine sets.
She quickly stepped to another level Sept. 6 against the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Agae recorded a career-high 15 kills while hitting .265.
It didn’t take long for her to shatter that high kill total — she posted 19 while hitting .444 Sept. 12 against the University of North Florida.
But it’s not just her hitting that makes her a valuable asset and keeps her on the court all matches. Agae reached a game-high 20 digs against High Point University on Sept. 10, while recording 11 against North Florida and 10 in a three-set loss to South Carolina University on Sept. 13.
Against Campbell University Sept. 13, Agae not only had 15 kills but also tallied a career-high 23 digs and was named to the All-Tournament Team of the Hampton Inn & Suites of Holly Springs Invitational.
“Kayla’s been playing awesome,” said junior setter Ana Nicksic. “She’s just very, very consistent all the way around, in her digging and swinging.”
When Elon head coach Mary Tendler was asked what she likes about Agae’s play, she answered quickly, “Consistency.” Tendler has singled out that aspect as something Elon needs to work on to improve its current 3-7 record.
And right now, Agae is providing more of it than anyone.
“That’s what we’re looking for in players — to be consistent from match to match,” Tendler said. “That takes a lot of focus. We asked her to do a lot, and she came through.”
Agae hasn’t gotten caught up in her recent hot stretch.
“Having my chance to play was awesome,” Agae said. “Overall, for the team as a whole, what we really want to do is be successful. No matter who’s on the court, we want to be successful. No matter if I’m on or whoever’s on.”