Kellerman, Calm and Composed

Scott Roeder | Staff Photographer

Scott Roeder | Staff Photographer

When thinking of UC Irvine women’s volleyball, the first name that might come to mind is sophomore Kari Pestolesi, and rightfully so. But there is another name that is probably just as good, if not better, and that is senior outside hitter Lauren Kellerman.
While Pestolesi smashed onto the NCAA volleyball scene last year with one of the best seasons by any freshman ever on campus, Kellerman was doing what she usually does – keeping up with the best.
In 2005, she made the All Big West freshman team and was second on the team with 309 kills.
In 2006, she made the All Big West First Team and this time lead the team in kills with 480.
In 2007, she again made the Big West First Team and made two all-tournament team selections.
Now in 2008, Kellerman is second on the team with 228 kills and third with 162 digs. More importantly, she is coming up big when the team needs her the most.
Earlier this month, Kellerman put together one of her best performances as she lead UCI to an upset victory over rival and 24th-ranked Long Beach State. In the win, which she considers her favorite, she recorded a season-high of 21 kills and topped the team with 13 digs, all while only committing three errors and hitting an impressive .375 on the match.
“We had never beat Long Beach State in my four years here. I really wanted to beat them bad, and we went out and did it,” Kellerman said.
Kellerman has propelled herself to become one of the leaders on the team. The most decorated and experienced of her teammates, she chooses to lead by example, and Coach Charlie Brande cannot stop raving about her.
“She’s a silent leader; she leads by example. She tries to win everything she can and isn’t as vocal about it as some of the others, but is very much a leader in that she takes care of the successes,” Brande said.
One would assume that a player of Kellerman’s caliber would come from a volleyball-rich family as did Pestolesi. However, Kellerman was somewhat pushed into playing the sport.
“In eighth grade I was the same height and weight I am now. The coach kept asking me to play and I was like ‘No, thanks,’ but all my friends were playing. So, I tried and fell in love,” Kellerman said.
She says her mom is “extremely un-athletic” and her father and brothers have no volleyball background whatsoever. In fact, all of her brothers played water polo in high school.
While it was her height that got her into the sport, it was her smarts and intelligence that made her the type of player she is today.
After her freshman year of high school, Kellerman decided to take volleyball even more seriously and did so by improving her once atrocious back-row skills.
“I got in the gym with my club coach, and really worked on playing back row. I was not tall enough to play middle, and if you want to play in college you have to be a complete player,” Kellerman said.
Not only did she improve, but also became the best at her school. She holds the records for most kills and digs at Escondido High School, and has a plethora of awards and medals at home to show for varsity and club successes.
While Kellerman is fundamentally sound with her outside hitter position, it is her intelligence that separates her from the rest.
“Her intellect while attacking the ball is above all the people we play against. She has a great deal of understanding of where to put the ball off the block, or what to do to score. Her intellect is one of the highest levels of anyone we’ve had here at UCI,” Brande said.
Watch Kellerman on the court and you will notice her relaxed attitude. She is a student of the game, watching the other team and preparing to adapt. When she is ready, she will attack and tap into her competitive, aggressive side.
Kellerman has a very “go with the flow” attitude on and off the court. Whether it’s preparing for a game-winning kill, or cooking up her favorite salmon dish, Kellerman is always focused on the task at hand.
“On the court, Lauren is daring. She has a fearless approach. Lauren isn’t afraid to make a mistake. Even in a close game, she’ll take a risky swing and I love that. I think that mentality is crucial in this game,” said setter Taryn Robertson.
Kellerman has no favorite songs, no favorite movies, no favorite anything. Instead, she just enjoys life and its simplicity. She is always thinking about what is coming and completing the task at hand. She doesn’t concern herself with worrying about the past or looking too far ahead into the future. She is going to Rome to study abroad in the winter and spring, and doesn’t know what to expect. She doesn’t even care right now.
She has one goal in mind these days, and that is winning the Big West.