At 6-foot-1, Kelley Guerra rises above much of her competition on the court. In her first season on Emerson’s women’s volleyball team, she’s also risen high up the team’s statistical leaderboard.
The freshman political communication major is already playing well on the volleyball court. Guerra is third on the team with 149 kills, and third in points with 194.5.
The Randolph, New Jersey native’s volleyball career began in high school—she said she wanted to pursue a sport because her older brother’s varsity jacket impressed her. Guerra said she initially struggled with volleyball but improved over the course of her high school career thanks to good coaching and experience on a club team.
“I think I stay focused,” Guerra said. “I get really excited about certain points, and that kind of energy really can change games around.”
Guerra, who makes frequent use of what head coach Ben Read calls her “patented Kelley fist pump,” can also be spotted grooving to the music emanating from the speakers at the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym during timeouts.
She’s quick to credit others after a good point, something that senior writing, literature and publishing major Kat Westbrook said she has noticed this season.
“As a freshman, having a starting role is kind of intimidating sometimes,” Westbrook said. “She does a great job of keeping her energy really positive and making sure that her teammates know when they’re doing a good job.”
Senior captain Giuli Frendak, a journalism major, said the early success of new players has been positive for the team and for Guerra’s development.
“I think the fact that there’s other freshmen who start as well has helped them gel together,” Frendak said.
Guerra’s path to Emerson was unique. She said she only explored the college seriously because friend and teammate Fara Cohen, who also played high school volleyball inNew Jersey, committed to Emerson. Once Guerra became familiar with the political communication major, and sorted out her financial aid, she settled on attending.
“Emerson was the last school I applied to, the last school I looked at,” Guerra said. “It was very random, but I think it was definitely true to the statement ‘You end up where you’re supposed to be.’”
Guerra hopes her time at Emerson will produce a career in Washington, D.C. Guerra said she aspires to one day become an employee at the White House, possibly in the role of press secretary or speechwriter.
Guerra also impresses with her vocal ability, singing the national anthem before most Lions home games. She said the tradition began earlier in the season, when she asked her coach to perform once, and has continued.
“It’s a really big part of my life, so being able to bring it to volleyball is super fun,” Guerra said.
The team atmosphere has been welcoming, Guerra said. For her birthday, which occurred early in the season, she said the other players purchased candy and a card for her.
“It was so nice, and so genuine, and I really felt like I was a part of the team,” Guerra said. “It was amazing because we’d only been here for less than a month, and they already did that for me.”
Read said Guerra’s addition has been a strong fit both on the court and in the locker room. He praised her commitment to the sport and to her studies, citing her high aspirations, and said she has improved over the course of just this season.
“We really want to make sure that the kids we’re looking at now just don’t fit in academically and athletically, but personality wise with our team,” Read said. “Kelley’s got a very bubbly personality, but she’s also a fierce competitor.”