Last month, at the Greater Kansas City Volleyball Coaches Association’s MO-KAN All-Star Match in Kansas City, Mo., Free State High senior Chantay Caron received some confused looks from her teammates when she informed them that she was headed to Kansas State University for a reason other than volleyball.
“Most of the girls there thought I was going to K-State to play volleyball,” Caron said. “When I told them that I was going to play basketball, they were surprised. It was nice for me because I’ve never really thought of myself as that kind of a volleyball player.”
She didn’t have to. Her numbers spoke for themselves. They also led to her being named the Journal-World’s All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year.
As the one of two returning starters on the Free State team, Caron led the Sunflower League in blocks (190) and kill efficiency (0.61). She also finished in the top 10 in kills, with 246, and earned first-team all-league honors for her play.
“I think what I admire most about Chantay is her commitment to excellence, her commitment to competition and that she wants to win,” Lawrence High coach Stephanie Magnuson said. “She is a force to be reckoned with on that other side, you can just see it in her eyes.”
Despite being so effective on the floor, Caron never caught herself admiring her stats.
“I just knew we had a really new team this year and I was doing everything I could to keep the team together,” Caron said. “It was much different than last year and it was a lot more fun for me.”
One of the more amazing things about Caron’s season shines through after examining her background. She did not begin playing volleyball until her freshman year at Ottawa High and, even then, those who knew her pegged her as a future college basketball player.
After dipping her toes into the sport in Ottawa, Caron’s career really took off when she arrived at Free State, thanks largely to the tutelage of FSHS coach Nancy Hopkins.
“Everything was completely new to me, so it was a bit of an adjustment,” Caron said. “Most of it came naturally, but there were still a lot of things that I had to work on.”
Included on that list were things like timing, court awareness and aggressiveness. In short, things that led Caron to her stellar senior season.
“Volleyball was just a lot of fun for me,” she said. “It was always real laid back and fun. There was no pressure and nobody was trying to pressure me to do anything.”
Asked if she ever considered looking into becoming a two-sport star at Kansas State, Caron wasted no time in answering.
“No,” she said. “Absolutely not one time.”