Kearby continues honing craft in volleyball

Falcons junior reflects on Falcons’ state appearance, team chemistry

By Jason Arndt

Westosha Central’s Keegan Kearby leaps up to launch a serve in a boys volleyball game last fall. Kearby, a junior, earned Southern Lakes Conference Athlete of the Year after finishing among the top 10 in assists statewide and helping Westosha Central to a WIAA State Boys Volleyball Tournament berth (Submitted/The Report).

Junior Keegan Kearby didn’t need much time to transition from libero to setter for the Westosha Central High School boys volleyball team.

Kearby, named Southern Lakes Conference Athlete of the Year last fall, said the transition was as simple as dropping basketball and joining Southport Volleyball Club in Kenosha.

“Following my sophomore season of high school volleyball, I decided to stop playing basketball and instead decided to play club volleyball,” he said. “I was the starting setter on that team and it allowed me to get a lot of touches before I played junior year for Central.”

Kearby, as a sophomore, ranked second in state with 442 digs as a libero for the 26-13 Falcons.

Last fall, meanwhile, Kearby’s early touches paid off as the junior setter and accounted for 319 total assists to finish eighth in the state rankings.

Kearby, however, admits he does not pay attention to state rankings and even earning Athlete of the Year honors.

“I do not really focus on individual awards, as a team, we wanted to go undefeated and make it to state,” he said. “Player of the Year was a nice surprise.”

As for the team, the Falcons accomplished their goal, recording an unbeaten conference record at 8-0 and 10-1 overall en route to WIAA state appearance hosted by Burlington High School.

Kearby credits his hitters for entrusting him with setting the offensive tone.

“The relationship between the hitters and myself requires a lot of repetition and our coaches push in the practice to build that chemistry,” he said. “I play with talented teammates and trust their skills which gives me many options.”

Additionally, he also recognized his coaches, including head varsity coach Drew Cox at Westosha Central.

“I have been lucky enough to have great club and high school coaches, but it was Drew Cox who saw something in me and moved me to varsity as a freshman,” said Kearby.

‘Lucky to actually play’
The fall sports season brought uncertainty because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic shortened the fall sports slate and left Kearby with early doubts about whether there would be a season, let alone a state tournament, but the Falcons pushed forward and accomplished their objectives.

“We felt lucky to actually get to play since at the start of the season we weren’t sure if we would be able to play our full schedule due to COVID,” he said.

The Falcons eventually claimed a WIAA boys volleyball sectional title and qualified for the state tournament at Burlington High School against Arrowhead, which edged Westosha Central in three sets, 25-22, 25-17, 26-24.

Kearby acknowledged playing at Burlington seemed all-too-familiar since the Falcons play against the Demons in conference play.

“Once we started playing, it was exciting and I look forward to trying to get back and hopefully travel to Green Bay next year,” Kearby said.

The State Boys Volleyball Tournament, traditionally held at Green Bay’s Resch Center, moved to Burlington due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Establishing goals
The Westosha Central boys volleyball program, according to Kearby, places a key emphasis on playing for one another.

The emphasis includes encouraging each other even when a teammate struggles.

“Central volleyball is all about playing together, we rely on one another for success and pick each other up when mistakes are made,” he said. “Before the season, we all set goals and those took the place of our team meals that we were not allowed to have this year.”

Two-sport athlete
Kearby, of Trevor, has spent the winter sports season with Southport Volleyball Club.

He and his club teammates have been competing since December and the season ends with a national tournament in July.

Kearby, meanwhile, hasn’t finished representing the Westosha Central athletics program this year.

He looks to put on the baseball cleats, grab a glove, and play for the Falcons in the spring.

“I am very much looking forward to playing baseball this year,” he said.