Maya McClendon- Know your Cardinals

By Noah Allison

 

Travelling all the way from across the street, duPont Manual graduate and freshman

volleyball outside hitter Maya McClendon has come to U of L with a determined style of

play that has her living up to the expectations of Card Nation while she strives to live up to

the expectations she holds for herself.

Through her first ten games of collegiate play McClendon leads the Cardinals in kills with

129 and is second on the team in digs with 95. With a tenacious work ethic and an insane

natural ability to jump, McClendon has provided a much needed early season lift to the

Cards. Seeing her around the Louisville native is all smiles, except that is for when it comes

time to get down to work, which she has done for the most part of her life.

“Athletically, I started out in gymnastics at the age of three, and I did all of the different

forms of competition,” McClendon said. “I think gymnastics is where I get my discipline

from. We practiced four hours a day every day, and I was only like seven years old; it

was crazy and it really did consume my life. It was around then that I had started to go to

some of my sister’s eighth grade volleyball games at KCD and thought that maybe this is

something I can get into.”

McClendon’s older sister is three-time All-American Deja McClendon, middle blocker

for the No. 1 Penn State University volleyball team and was the precursor for McClendon

volleyball greatness at duPont Manual and Kentucky Country Day School.

“I started playing volleyball in the fifth grade, and I was terrible. All I could do was just

jump high. That was the first year that I started playing, but competitively, I started playing

club when I was twelve years old and that’s where it became more of a serious hobby,”

McClendon said.

Maya is the second of four siblings, and her father Roger McClendon played collegiate

basketball for the University of Cincinnati. But it wasn’t the athletic side of life that was

pushed in the McClendon household.

“My parents started off getting us really into academics, it wasn’t like they really pushed

us into sports,” McClendon continues. “They really pushed us into school and having

hobbies, and becoming an athlete just came with that. My dad definitely had an influence

on my athletic career, but he was very into getting an education first and then letting the

athletics come.”

The athletics definitely came as McClendon and her KIVA, Kentucky/Indiana Volleyball

Academy team, would be perennial top five contenders in the nation and McClendon twice

brought home the silver medal from a long national tournament run. But for a player with

the potential to go wherever she wished, it was more than the four seasons and down home

cooking that got her to stay in The Ville.

“I never thought I would end up staying in Louisville. Before Anne Kordes got here I

didn’t even look here. But I had played for Anne before on a national team and I loved her

so I came to visit, and I was blown away,” McClendon proclaimed. “I went on countless

other visits to other places, but it is too amazing here. People and especially people from

here have no idea how extremely spoiled we are with the facilities we have at U of L.”

McClendon got a crash course test on collegiate volleyball play when the season started

playing eight road games against their toughest competition of the season. Amongst that

tough competition was the nation’s number one team and her older sister’s team Penn

State. The Cardinals went 2-6 over the opening road stint, since winning their season home

openers against Rice and Virginia Tech in the Active Ankle Challenge the Cardinals have

been able to string together four straight victories to bring their overall record to 6-6.

“Before pre-season even started Coach made it very clear to all of us that from the

beginning we are going to be playing some of the best teams in the nation. Even though we

weren’t winning immediately I didn’t look at it as a bad thing, you need to be broken down

in able to be built back up,” McClendon states.

“Coach completely knows what she’s doing. The losses that we had she always knew what

to say. I fully believe in Anne, what she’s doing and what she has planned for us because I

know it’s going to pay off. She’s that kind of coach, everything happens for a reason, and

we are still very confident for the rest of the season,” McClendon said. “We are not even

thinking about the past right now, we are just thinking what’s the next step up, and we are

not going to stop until we reach the top.”

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