O’Neal hoping for playoffs in debut year


Hunter LyleReporter

In the last stretch of her first season as an Owl, freshman Kailyn O’Neal and the Southern women’s volleyball team is looking to finish the season strong.

After beating Merrimack College on Oct. 13, the Owls were able to improve their season record to 11-12. With eight games left in the season, the team is looking to focus on the big picture by focusing on little picture.

O’Neal, a communication major, said even though it has not been the perfect start, the players know that Southern has a good team and there is still time left in the season.

“We all have high expectations for ourselves, and we should be doing better than we are now,” said O’Neal. “I think that when we start getting stuff together in practice and just working harder and focusing on the little things rather than the end goal, we will start achieving the little goals instead of the big picture.”

Born and raised in Katy, Texas, a suburb of Houston, O’Neal started playing volleyball at her local middle school just like her sister.

My mom said, ‘oh you should try [volleyball]’ because my sister played it,” O’Neal said. “I tried it and I was kind of good at it so I chose to stick with it.”

O’Neal continued playing volleyball throughout her time at Obra D. Tompkins High School, and even played outside of school for a club team named Houston Juniors. It was with the Houston Juniors that O’Neal would be able to attend the Las Vegas Classic, a nationwide volleyball tournament, where she would meet Southern volleyball head coach Lisa Barbaro.

O’Neal’s team is a very well known team out of Texas, said Barbaro. Southern needed a setter so when the team was looking for recruits, O’Neal stood out.

“I saw Kailyn in Las Vegas at a tournament and I was really impressed with her skill level,” said Barbaro. “[I was impressed] with how she led and carried her team, and carried herself.”

In her first year as a collegiate athlete, O’Neal was in the starting lineup in the season opener against the University of Bridgeport.

“When I found out I was starting, it came as a shock,” said O’Neal. “I think that I wasn’t really expecting it, but the good thing was the team was really supportive so I kind of felt comfortable.”

Although the Owls lost the game to the University of Bridgeport that night, they won their next three games against Dominican College, Nyak College, and Post University, all by a score of 3-0.

Leanna Jadus said one word to describe O’Neal would be passionate.

“Kailyn is definitely not the someone that is super approachable at first,” said Jadus, “but you know that she is down to business, she just wants to play, she wants to win. She has a lot of fire in her eyes.”

The Southern volleyball team’s next game is on Oct. 19 against Stonehill College.

Photo Credit: SCSU Athletic Communications

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