PORTSMOUTH — Those closest to Kennedy Bowling believe she is one of the best student-athletes around —in terms of both on the volleyball court and in the classroom.
A standout academically, athletically and especially morally, the six-foot tall Portsmouth High School middle blocker blends all of those characteristics —and plans to pursue further her academic and athletic career at Ohio Christian University.
That’s because, last Friday afternoon at Portsmouth High School, Bowling made her OCU announcement official —flanked by her parents Shannon and Keri Bowling; sisters Madison, Taylor and Reagan Bowling; PHS volleyball head coach Shay White; Portsmouth High School Athletic Director Joe Albrecht; and several members of the Trojan volleyball team and friends.
As a senior, the two-time all-Ohio Valley Conference selection spearheaded the Trojans with 245 kills on 763 attempts for a 32-percent kill percentage —as she also served up 22 aces.
At the net, on the defensive, she solo-blocked 56 balls, and assisted on another 26.
For her MaxPreps statistics of her final two years, as Bowling and the Trojans experienced three head coaching changes in four falls, she played in 151 sets —amassing 421 kills on 1,246 attempts for a kill-percentage of 34, plus 94 solo blocks and 68 assisted.
In choosing OCU, Bowling said she is following in her father’s footsteps —as Shannon Bowling is an alumnus of the Circleville-based campus.
The Trailblazers are a member of the NAIA, and compete in the River States Conference.
Bowling also said an early familiarity with the Trailblazers’ program swayed her decision to attend Ohio Christian.
“I had started playing volleyball with them and their coach reached out to me at the end of my junior year, and I got to play with them a lot. I really liked building the relationships with them,” she said. “I also liked how I could build my faith there, and have really good friendships and go back if I ever needed to. I’ve played with them and they know who I am and I know who they are.”
Her travel team coach, Ally Coyle, is also the OCU head coach —entering her third season with the 2023-24 academic year.
Bowling also said Wright State University, Miami University and Wilmington College were in communication with her about volleyball, but she elected upon OCU.
Bowling said she is being recruited as a middle blocker, given all of her experience along the front row in four years.
Speaking of which, she discussed her adjustments to each coaching change for the Trojans —as White was her senior season mentor, following the previous two years under the tutelage of Missy Ankrom.
“When you have multiple coaches, it’s at first always difficult to adjust to their coaching style and how they like to run practices and game situations. But in the end, you are able to understand them on a coach-to-athlete level and build that relationship. Learning from three different people is so beneficial as an athlete trying to go collegiate level,” said Bowling. “All three know the game, they know what to tell you, and they give you different advice and techniques on how to accomplish that.”
Bowling —a Division III Honorable Mention selection as a senior for the District 14 Coaches Association all-district unit —said she plans to major in English and minor in Journalism.
As for on the volleyball court itself, it’s all about “building those relationships and just growing in the sport”.
“It’s (volleyball) something I’ve always loved,” said Bowling. “The four years here playing at Portsmouth have been great. I love my teammates so much. They are my girls and being able to be a captain to them this past year has been amazing. They’ve made playing volleyball even more enjoyable for me. Even with the coaching changes, I got to grow very close to them. It’s all been great, and I’m just excited to go off to Ohio Christian and play.”
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved