It’s not the bittersweet moments of the Class 5A state championship match that Kizzy Willey will remember.
It’s the work and dedication that it took to get there.
The Lone Peak outside hitter committed everything to her teammates throughout the season. She surrendered her body for every loose ball, jumped for every block and put away every ball. Willey racked up 13 kills in the championship match and played with an intensity that few could match.
"You have to bring it at all times and work very hard," Willey said. "It’s the only way I know how to win."
Willey, who competed for the U.S. junior national team earlier this year, brings this intensity to everything she does. From the gym to the classroom, Willey has committed herself to being the best and always improving. Her hitting prowess at the net is the result of years in the weight room and an unflinching determination to kill every ball.
"I’ve always wanted to play at a higher level, and I have pushed myself to get there," Willey said.
She is graduating early from Lone Peak with a 4.0 GPA to join her new team, the Arizona State Sun Devils, in January. Her desire to play at the collegiate level forced her to split time between online classes, homework and practice while finishing the volleyball season with a 22-3 record.
She plans on studying journalism and work toward her ultimate goal of joining the 2016 U.S. Olympic team in Rio de Janeiro.
"It takes a lot of discipline," Willey said. "If you are going to be a student-athlete, you have to be a student first."
With this chapter of her life closing, she always will remember this season, especially time with her teammates, who she credits for keeping her focused and grounded.
"It was more than a volleyball game — it was a sisterhood," Willey said. "Everyone on this team made me so much better."
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.