Junior signs with D1 college

Junior Kacia Brown attempts a kill against the Ankeny Centennial Jaguars in the final game at State on Friday, Nov. 9. Brown committed to Mississippi State University recently.

Recently, rising star junior Kacia Brown committed to Mississippi State College with a full D1 scholarship that will open many more doors regarding her volleyball career as well as allowing her to go by her passion for another four whole years. 

Having started volleyball during middle school, Brown has been going full speed since, leaving her supporters and competitors at “aw” every time she touches the ball. Brown said she owes her achievements to years of non-stop practice. 

“I have been playing volleyball since sixth grade, I think. I can see my self-growth even when I compare my performance to last year. You learn a lot of things along the way. There are always ways in which you can improve yourself to be your best. It can be quite stressful and overwhelming sometimes, especially added to the stress of school and stuff, but over years of practice, it really has become an escape from many things, as well. Now it’s just this huge passion that I don’t think I’ll ever let go,” Brown said. 

Growing up under the influence of her siblings, Brown’s love for athletics continued off other branches such as basketball and track too. While dominating in sports, Brown has maintained high grades and leadership traits herself as well. Although there are challenges along the way, her love for the sport helps her overcome the problems and encourages her to seek for solutions.

“I think there are many times where volleyball helps me in many aspects of life in general, but then again there’s a part which kind of makes it worse too. Like if I get stressed about a game or miss school for volleyball, it makes it really hard, especially when there was the thought of college too where I went through a tough point during the recruiting process, trying to find out which college I wanted to go to—that was really hard as well. On the other hand, though, it really helps coming down to the aspects of playing with a team, knowing how to solve problems or even focus. Because when the ball comes down you have to do everything you can to get back, like that grit, that’s always gonna be something you need in life. It also helps the time-management a lot. Student-athletes are always the best at being able to keep up sports and school at the same time, which is a huge one,” she said. 

During practices or games, no matter the years of experience, Brown said she is always very excited to play. Also having been under a lot of pressure, she finds volleyball to be not only therapeutic but also a way to improve her mental state of being, regarding strategy, when faced with exciting events. To succeed, shining the light on self-control, Brown tries to focus on the ball, and only the ball. 

“I feel so excited during volleyball like during games it’s just so fun because you never know what’s gonna happen and every game’s so different. In addition, you also get to do different things too. For example, when you play all the way around especially too; hitting, passing, serving, blocking and then you get to hit different spots too. It is also being able to work on mental toughness because volleyball is such a strategic sport, and I think that it helps you be a better leader and a better player of the game when you can work on that, and that kind of translates into different things in life too, which makes me think about the game more and focus on the ball, but during the game I’m just always genuinely happy,” Brown said.

Volleyball being her biggest passion, the loss in the final game of State was the end of a season of important lessons. She said losing State made her come closer to her teammates and created the sisterhood that’ll last for many more years no matter how far apart. 

“Losing State this year was definitely the most intimate moment of all. I loved my team last year, and I loved winning last year, but the bond that I had with the team this year was so special and different in so many ways; going undefeated that long, a whole 46 games, and then also being so close together outside of volleyball and just knowing each other so well … nothing was gonna be better than that, and, honestly, even though we lost, I don’t think I would change any second of it because I got so much love for/from the team, and afterward just being able to cry with your teammates and hug your teammates, still know you love each other. There was no sense of blame or anything afterward because some teammates are so quick to put the blame on other people, but at that moment, we all just knew that we were there for each other, and it was all love. There wasn’t a lot of negativity that day, and I think that shows a lot of character, especially when you just lost a game,” she said. 

Kacia also broke her sister Kaz’s record for most single season kills that Kaz had set in 2014. Kacia’s new record is 389 killers versus her sister’s 383. 

Browns’ competition with her sister will continue when she goes off to college where she will be playing against her sister at Kentucky under the same conference. 

Aside being awarded “Best Player,” some of Brown’s biggest achievements include “First Team All-State,” “All Tournament Team at State” and “Elite Team All-State.” 

Being one of the 2 percent of high school students going off D1 excited Brown, but she said her soon-to-be coach Julie Darty was so happy Brown committed that she cried, telling Brown she wasn’t going to accept anyone but her. 

Brown has plans of playing volleyball after college as well. 

“My overall growth over the years just had a lot to do with my coaches and teammates. My sophomore year, I was the only sophomore playing with one junior and the rest were seniors. They welcomed me so fast, and I got set a lot for being the only sophomore, which helped me develop, winning State and being able to play with pressure, which helped me to be a better leader this year as one of the only returners. Our coach Matt Johnson and our assistant coach Adam, they’re so helpful. Whenever we needed to do adjust something, or even the smallest questions I had, they’d always be able to tell me what to do. Everything they did was making us better, and everything they said had a purpose, which I am going to miss a lot because I like them a lot, and I like my team a lot. Next year I’ll be looking forward to it. I just want it to be senior year volleyball season, but I’m definitely gonna miss them a lot,” Brown said.

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