North Tahoe volleyball: Baumgardner receives scholarship to Chico State
Like a gripping novel full of suspense, triumph, sad farewells and new beginnings, the last two weeks of North Tahoe volleyball standout Kayla Baumgardner’s life story have been a wild ride.
One chapter closed for the senior middle blocker and team captain as she finished her Laker career in the Nevada 2A state semifinal. But like a continuing fairy tale, the next chapter immediately unfolded. The same day the Lakers bowed out of the tournament, Baumgardner signed a letter of intent to play volleyball for Division II Chico State next fall.
Accepting the partial scholarship to Chico State, Baumgardner joins a growing list of North Tahoe and Truckee volleyball standouts who have shown the talent it takes to step up to the collegiate game. For a player who North Tahoe coach Tom LeFevers said “made herself into a fantastic player,” the skills and success she developed to secure an athletic scholarship have been a result of seven years of hard work.
“When I started playing volleyball in sixth grade at North Tahoe Middle School I was an average athlete. I didn’t have crazy talent,” said Baumgardner. “But once I saw what the sport was all about I became blood thirsty to be a great player and achieve success.”
Baumgardner achieved that prep success by playing volleyball year-round since her freshman year. In addition to her leading role on the Laker varsity team the last three years, she has played December through July for the top-ranked Capitol City Volleyball club out of Carson City.
With 182 total kills in 61 games this season playing for North Tahoe (nearly three kills per game average), Baumgardner finished her prep career helping lead the Lakers to a 10-2 league record while soaring above the net spiking home kill after kill in front of much-impressed visiting coaches. Those same coaches awarded her Northern 2A Most Valuable Player honors.
“I was pretty shocked to be named league MVP,” said Baumgardner. “I worked really hard for it, but I didn’t expect it. I just play volleyball for fun, but it’s nice to get awarded because it reminds me of what I’ve accomplished.”
Despite slamming home dozens and dozens of kills throughout her Laker career, Baumgardner remembers a few especially epic points she scored. One in particular came on match point of the fifth game in a North Tahoe victory over Incline in the zone tournament this season.
“Usually I would hit a tip shot on match point just to make sure I got the game over with,” said Baumgardner, reminiscing the play. “But Kelly Hester put up a perfect set so I smashed it in their face to win the game.”
If Baumgardner continues to show such passion at the net for Chico State, there is no doubt her volleyball success story will play out happily ever after. But there’s no rush to jump into that chapter for the senior; Baumgardner still has a semester’s worth of memories to live as a Laker.