February 21, 2021 – By NJP
Park Ridge junior Kailey Levinson is an impressive young lady. As much as she has been a standout on the volleyball court, she is even more impressive as a person. The Park Ridge student is a leader and excels academically. She is also the first to step up and volunteer for roles that can help people and make a difference in their lives. It is always heartwarming to see this commitment at such a young age. Quite inspiring…
But let’s focus on what Kailey has accomplished on the court the last two high school seasons. As a freshman, she rocketed on to the scene posting 360 assists for the Owls in her first campaign as well contributing 46 aces and 69 digs.
As a sophomore, Kailey turned it up, putting up 426 assists, 180 digs, and 50 aces on a team that went 17-11 and advanced to the state sectional quarterfinals. She now prepares for her junior year after getting quality reps and guidance at Pinnacle Volleyball Academy. The bar will be raised once again.
NJP projects Park Ridge to be a top 50 team in NJ. The big challenge for the Owls is that they have Midland Park and Bogota in their division, numbers #6 and #3 respectively in the NJP preseason analysis. With the short season though, anything can happen. And Park Ridge is certainly not short on talent this Spring.
Levinson has a massive amount of potential this year as a junior. She has solid VB instincts, soft hands, and an arsenal of talent around her for the Spring. The Owls will be in good hands for the next two years with Kailey quarterbacking the attack.
Here is our interview with Ms. Levinson…
Tell us a bit about yourself, Kailey?
Hi, my name is Kailey Levinson, and I am a junior at Park Ridge High School. I am a member of the Class of 2022 and have played for the Park Ridge Owls at the varsity level since my freshman year and have played at the club level since 8th grade. My mom, dad, younger sister, and I live in Park Ridge, New Jersey.
How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?
Volleyball has been a huge part of my life for numerous years. My parents encouraged me and helped sign me up for clinics when I was in 2nd grade, and ever since I fell in love with the sport. I immediately enjoyed the nature of the sport, and how teamwork and leadership come into play. From 4th grade through 8th grade, I played on the CYO team at Our Lady of Mercy in Park Ridge, NJ, and continued to play with the Park Ridge Middle School team in the 7th and 8th grades. Come my freshman year at Park Ridge High School, I played at the varsity level, and am now looking forward to my third year on the team this March. Additionally, I played at the club level with Rockland PRIDE from 8th to 10th grade, and now play with Pinnacle Volleyball Academy.
What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What’s your favorite position to play?
I am 5’6 and have a vertical of 8’9. I play for Pinnacle Volleyball Academy and I absolutely love setting, making it my favorite position. Although setting is my biggest passion on the court, I also enjoy playing opposite hitter/right side.
Tell us about your Owl teammates. Who do you expect will be this year’s standout and up and coming players?
For the Park Ridge Owls, we have an incredible and tight-knit group of girls returning. A lot of us have played together before, allowing us to have a great deal of trust and communication with one another. This year will certainly be exciting and gratifying, as I know we are capable of doing great things. To start off with our seniors, Madison Szabo, a returning middle hitter, is insane at the net with her blocks, smart placements, and powerful swing. Kelsey Urmanowicz, our senior libero, is not afraid to dive for the ball and consistently puts up remarkable passes. Senior Charlotte Nunberg is extremely versatile as she plays both front and back row and communicates very well on the court. Anna McDermott, a senior defensive specialist, also does awesome in her passing and setting. Moving on to fellow junior players, one of our outside hitters, Kate Rutowski, is a tough force at the net with her powerful hits and incredible vertical. Gianna Viscovic, another outside, is crucial to our success due to her swiftness on the court and her dominant serve. We have so many more talented players that will be crucial to our team’s success, and I cannot wait to see what this season has in store for us all.
NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state. Are you already considering your college choices? What do you plan to study in college or what is your career path?
College is certainly around the corner, and I have already done a great deal of both researching and considering. As far as a career path, I am interested in both the health sciences and marketing, so combining them in some way would be incredible. Academics come first for me, and I strive to do my best in all subjects to ensure I make the most of my education. Ultimately, I would absolutely love to play volleyball at the collegiate level; through NCSA, I have already begun reaching out to schools in the northeast area and will continue to build connections with coaches!
Tell us about your club experience at Pinnacle?
Although this is my first year playing with Pinnacle Volleyball Academy, I feel as though I have been playing with them for longer, as choosing to play for them has been such a positive and encouraging experience. My astonishing teammates have all helped me grow as a player and a leader on the court, and Coach Pichardo and all the experienced Pinnacle staff and coaches are tremendously welcoming and including. I am so appreciative to have the opportunity of playing on the 17-1 team this year, as I have been able to work on my game amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, while also being able to play volleyball at a more intense level. Playing with these girls has been such a pleasure and I know they are all going far with their careers as well. Lastly, another unique opportunity I’ve had with Pinnacle this year is playing with Madison Szabo, a fellow Park Ridge Owl. Together, we have been able to find the perfect placements for my sets to her and have both grown as players and teammates.
What do you love best about being a setter?
I absolutely love being a setter. “Bettering the ball,” “adjusting the placement,” and “playing smart,” are just some of my responsibilities, but working on and implementing new plays is my favorite part of the position. It’s just super rewarding to be a part of an incredible play and know that I placed it in the right place for the hitter to be successful in getting a kill. I also love setting because it allows me to be involved of numerous different parts of the game: defense, setting, serving, blocking, and of course tipping/hitting when needed.
You had a such a solid sophomore season at Park Ridge with 50 aces, 426 assists and 180 digs. What are your goals for the remainder of your high school career?
I am incredibly grateful for how well our team did last season, and how far we made it in playoffs. My top goal for my high school career is to continue encouraging and working with my teammates to do our best and play to our fullest capabilities, while making the most of our time on the court. I know that we are capable of becoming league champs this year if we put in the work and play smart. Additionally, with my cumulative total of 786 assists, it would be exceedingly rewarding to surpass 1,000 assists within my final two seasons at Park Ridge. Reaching this many assists will not only show my personal achievement, but more importantly will reflect the amazing passes and powerful swings from my fellow teammates.
Tell us about your current coaches at both Pinnacle and Park Ridge…
At Pinnacle, my coaches are Coach Rhett Arcilla and Coach Max Khan. They have an extremely positive influence on myself and my teammates whether it’s a quick tip on our form, or an inspirational quote before a match. Ironically, I had them both as coaches when I was just starting to pick up the sport at the CYO level. I credit them for helping me develop my volleyball skills back then, and even more now, for helping me perfect and fine-tune all parts of my game. My current coaches at Park Ridge, Coach Bill Allen and Coach Ashley Urmanowicz, are incredible as well. They have taught me so much these past two years and continue to give me valuable tips in all different areas of the game. From practices to games, they always know how to get our team prepared and excited. I am forever grateful for all they do for me and the Park Ridge Owls and look forward to play for them again this upcoming season.
Who is your favorite college or pro volleyball team and why?
I thoroughly look up to the Army West Point Women’s Volleyball Team. After attending their summer camp for the first time in 2017, my family and I began attending various games and following the team and their success. The team is incredible, and all the girls show a great deal of strength on and off the court. My favorite memory was the Army vs. Navy game back in 2019 when they came back and won after a 5-game match, and everyone in the stands burst onto the court afterwards in excitement. I look forward to watching their games in-person again in the future with my friends and family.
What else would you like us to know about you?
Aside from playing both school and club volleyball, I participate in many other clubs and organizations. I am a member of the National Honor Society, an executive board member for my school’s DECA chapter, an avid 4-H member, choir member, and am currently going for my Girl Scout Gold Award. Being involved in a variety of different groups allows me to stay well-rounded and fulfill all my interests.
Is there a teacher or coach who really helped you along the way?
All of the coaches I have had over the years were tremendous and critical in making me the player that I am today. However, I do not think I would be where I am today without Coach Tara Kane, the varsity head coach my freshman year. Her and Coach Bill Allen, the assistant coach at the time, put a lot of trust in me as a freshman to quarterback the team as the starting setter. As a setter herself, Coach Kane taught me so much about the position and inspired me to work harder, while also introducing me to playing at the varsity level for the first time.
Who is your support group?
My support group is certainly both my parents and my sister, and I cannot thank them enough for all they do. I am super fortunate to say that in all my years of playing, my parents have been at almost every single one of my games and tournaments. Even now with the limited spectator rules, they still take the time to watch the videos from my tournaments and practices and get excited to see my team and I play. They not only cheer me on, but they encourage me to be the best person I can be on and off of the court. Additionally, my younger sister, Katelyn, helps me strive to be a role model on and off the court and is my biggest fan. She has taken on volleyball as well, and I love playing with her and helping her become a better player as well. I cannot wait to see what she accomplishes in her own career and I look forward to cheering her on throughout the process.