Marymount High Volleyball Player Kerry Keefe Is Keeping Her Family’s Winning Tradition Alive
By STEVE GALLUZZO |Sports Editor
Whether in the classroom or on the volleyball court, Kerry Keefe is all about excellence. She comes from an athletic family to be sure, but the Marymount High junior-to-be is blazing her own trail and wants nothing more than to lead the Sailors to a CIF championship in the fall. For someone as competitive and driven as she is, meeting individual goals is important yet she remains the quintessential team player.
“I love the team aspect of volleyball,” Keefe says. “It’s impossible to do it alone and my teammates make my experience so special. They are my foundation on the court and best friends off the court and I absolutely love them.”
The daughter of ex-NBA star Adam Keefe and former Olympic volleyball player Kristin Klein (both of whom are in the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame), she has been raised to overachieve and that mentaility manifests itself in every aspect of her life. The slender 6-foot-2 Palisadian played middle blocker and opposite on the Sailors’ varsity squad as a sophomore in 2019, helping Marymount reach the Southern Section Division 1 semifinals. She enjoys every facet of the game: serving, blocking, digging and attacking—and her position requires that she utilize every one of her skills.
“In regards to where I play, I’m a right side hitter—a position often played by a left-handed player, but not always. I love playing six rotations because in the front row it’s my job to take out the other team’s best hitter with my blocking and hammer balls from the right side. In the back row, I have the opportunity to serve and play defense so I love being able to do it all.”
Growing up, Keefe participated in a wide array of sports, including soccer and track, but she began focusing on basketball and volleyball during her middle school years. She played club basketball until eighth grade when she decided playing two club sports at the same time could no longer accommodate her busy schedule.
Keefe’s competitive nature is in her blood. Eight years ago, her parents and her grandfather Bob Klein (a lifelong Palisadian who played in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers) were in a group of 15 Palisadians who hiked to the summit of Mt. Whitney, the tallest peak in the continental United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet.
Kerry’s mom Kristin Klein Keefe was a four-time All-American at Stanford, was named 1991 Women’s Volleyball National Player of the Year and played outside hitter on the U.S. Women’s National Team at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Kerry’s dad Adam was a forward/center in the NBA from 1992-2001, playing for the Atlanta Hawks, Utah Jazz and Golden State Warriors.
“I started playing competitive club volleyball in sixth grade for Sunshine,” says Keefe, who lives off of El Medio above Palisades High. “My first team was Sunshine 12s and our coach’s name was Lenka Jamrichova. Then I skipped 13s to play up a year and played for Stefanie Wigfall on the Sunshine 14s team. On 15s I played for Cari Klein and Tuan Le and we won bronze at Junior Olympics. On 16s I played for Heather Bown and our team ended the season third-best in the country with another bronze at JOs. This past season for 17s I played for Cari and Tuan again yet our season was cut way too short.”
Cari Klein, who also lives in the Palisades, runs Sunshine and has turned Marymount’s program into a powerhouse—enticing Keefe to follow in her older sisters’ footsteps and become a Sailor.
“I chose Marymount because of its incredible academics, strong volleyball program and extraordinary community,” Keefe says. “This past season [fellow Palisadian] Addie Edwards and I carpooled every day to morning practice at 5:30 and picked up Sophia Globe and Elia Rubin along the way. I’ve known Cari for as long as I can remember because my sisters have played on a team with Cari’s daughter, Hannah Klein, since I was 5. She’s such a successful coach because she has the ability to push players out of their comfort zone to be the best they can be, while also serving as a motherly figure with each of her players’ best interests in mind. She truly cares about the well being of her players on and off the court, which makes her a very special woman.”
Kerry’s three siblings all followed their parents to Stanford. Caitlin, a defensive specialist, just graduated from there (she played volleyball all four years) and Michaela, an outside hitter, also played volleyball all four years and is getting her master’s.
Kerry’s brother James was an All-CIF Division 1 selection his senior year at Loyola High and will be a sophomore at Stanford in the fall. He plays forward on the men’s basketball team for the Cardinal, appearing in 30 games off the bench as a freshman.
Keefe and the Sailors won 33 of 38 matches last fall, captured the Mission League title and notched victories over highly-ranked teams like Mater Dei, Cathedral Catholic, Vista Murrieta, Marin Catholic, La Costa Canyon and Mira Costa.
“My favorite match was when we beat Mater Dei in the finals of the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona [in October],” Keefe recalls. “Mater Dei is one of our biggest state rivals and it was really rewarding to beat them in that tournament.”
Back in 2014, Keefe took first place in the 10-12 division of the Palisades Will Rogers 5K on Jul 4, running the 3.1 miles through the Huntington neighborhood in 24:18. That came two months after kicking Pali Califa, AYSO Region 69’s Girls U10 EXTRA soccer team, to first in the top flight at the Camarillo Strawberry Cup. Earlier that year, Pali Califa won the Arizona Kachina Klassic and Downey Kick Off Classic.
In March 2014, Keefe made the Minor Division All-Star team in girls basketball at the Palisades Recreation Center. One year before, she took first place in the third- and fourth-grade girls cross country race at the CYO Invitational in Cerritos. She was also third that year at the Mt. SAC Invitational in Walnut.
Keefe was a standout academically and athletically at Corpus Christi, where her mom Kristin and her grandparents Bob and JoAnn preceded her. She was a member of the school’s Junior High Academic Decathlon team while running cross country, playing soccer and earning First Team All-CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) honors in two sports: basketball and volleyball.
With a 4.0 GPA, Keefe was valedictorian of her class at Corpus Christi and won the school’s Female Athlete of the Year Award. She was also the 2018 CYO Female Athlete of the Year—the first Wildcats athlete ever so honored. The CYO encompasses over 160 schools in the greater Los Angeles area, consisting of more than 10,000 athletes.
Even as a freshman on the varsity team—a rarity at Marymount—Keefe showed signs that she was a blossoming star. She was fifth on the squad in sets played (121) and kills (140) and third in blocks (41) as a ninth-grader. The team lost to Mater Dei in the Southern Section Division 1 final and again in the Southern California Regional Open Division finals.
As a sophomore she paced the Sailors in kill percentage (44.5) and was second in total kills (265), third in blocks (42), fourth in aces (24) and fifth in digs (114). In September, she made All-Tournament at the Dave Mohs Memorial Classic in Orange County.
Twins Caitlin and Michaela, 2016 graduates of Marymount, where they lettered in volleyball and basketball, played on three NCAA championship volleyball teams at Stanford—as freshmen in 2016 and back-to-back in 2018 and 2019. Their younger sister has aspirations of becoming an NCAA champion as well.
In January, Keefe was selected to PrepVolleyball.com’s 2019 All-American squad along with Sunshine teammates Rubin, Caroline Altergott, Taylor Simpson and Jaylen Jordan. Later that month, Keefe was one of 13 girls to make the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Sophomores First-Team. Rubin was chosen State Sophomore of the Year while another Sailors teammate, setter Kelly Belardi, made the second team.
Keefe always tries to see the glass “half full” and is hopeful that the coronavirus pandemic will not impact the 2020 season, although training and practice have already been affected, especially for her club team.
“Due to COVID-19 my club team hasn’t been able to practice since March 10, but Sunshine has led Zoom sessions several days a week to keep us in shape and getting touches with the ball,” she says. “I feel optimistic about our fall season for Marymount volleyball but the only way to really know is just to wait and see.”
Keefe not only plays indoors, she plays on Marymount’s beach team as well. The Sailors’ varsity won the Westside Division of the Interscholastic Beach Volleyball League in 2019.
“One of my biggest goals is to be one of the country’s best collegiate six-rotation right side hitters,” Keefe says. “I’d love to keep playing in college. I played beach for Marymount and I often play in sand tournaments over the summer. It’s a really fun sport!”
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