UTA recruited senior middle blocker Kainah Williams when she was in high school, but she decided to go elsewhere. Now, UTA is back on her radar, and her volleyball career is coming full circle.
Freshman middle blocker Monica LaFleur said Williams is a mother figure to the whole team, as she’s the oldest player on the team. And playing the same position as Williams is what makes their relationship unique, she said.
Although Williams is not a re- turning member of the team, she makes LaFleur feel comfortable and comes off as someone that has been on the team for a while, LaFleur said. She appreciates Williams’ small gestures, such as driving her to church or picking her up to go to the grocery store.
Williams transferred to UTA in May after attending Liber- ty University for five years and earned the ASUN Second Team- All Conference in 2018. She leads the team in blocks at 50 and ranks fifth on the team in kills and points.
She chose UTA because of its proximity to home, she said. And after talking to the players and coaches on the team, she knew UTA was the place for her if she wanted to carry her sports career beyond college, she said.
Volleyball head coach J.T. Wenger said Williams is a veteran player and describes her performance on the court as savvy.
“Watching how she moved, and how she was engaged and talking to her previous coaching staff were all the things that pointed us in her direction,” Wenger said.
Williams’ availability on the court and consistency in attack- ing are some of the quality traits she brings, he said. Williams’ experience is an important part of the program.
Even as an experienced player, Williams is still engaged and curious, Wenger said. And that has made a good impression for the younger players to see that some- one with that much experience is still wanting to learn more about the sport.
Williams creates an environment where it makes LaFleur feel comfortable asking questions as well, she said. She admires how Williams welcomes feedback and asks to learn from her during practice to get better.
“[Williams] is genuinely one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met,” LaFleur said.
Although Wenger has only known Williams for a few months, it seems she’s already bringing her optimism and upbeat personality off the court as well, he said.
“She’s doing a good job,” he said. “She’s working hard, she’s a great role model for our athletes, and we’re happy to have her in the program.”
LaFleur said Williams understands what they are doing and doesn’t make impulsive decisions on the court.
“One of the things that always stuck out to me is whether she misses a hit or doesn’t close a block, she’s always smiling, which I think is really helpful,” LaFleur said. “She brings a positive attitude to the team and is just a really positive person overall.”