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,”
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
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.”