strongChris Eyer, Beacon Staff/strong
Volleyball is in Megan Kaplon’s blood. Her parents met playing volleyball, and her older sister played before her. She’s been playing since the seventh grade.
But even after all these years, Kaplon has still not lost her enthusiasm.
“Volleyball has always been one of the number one things for me,” said Kaplon, who is an outside hitter for this year’s Emerson Lions. “I can’t stop. It’s just something that I do.”
She has yet to grow complacent. Instead of spending the summer slacking off in the offseason, Kaplon used her time to get in shape. The senior says she began using the infamous P90x, or Power 90 Extreme, workout regimen. The P90x is a 90-day program that emphasizes plyometrics, cardio, and minimal heavy lifting.
“Over the offseason, I also did a lot of conditioning and jump-training, and I’m probably in better shape than I’ve been in any other season,” Kaplon said.
The writing, literature, and publishing major has always been driven. Former coach Craig Letourneau said he recognized Kaplon’s dedication to volleyball right away.
“She had a competitive nature, and she was just passionate about the game,” said Letourneau in a phone interview. Letourneau left Emerson after the 2011 school year to coach the Wheaton College women’s volleyball team.
Kaplon said the offseason work paid off, as she has more body control in the air when she attacks sets, giving her more options.
“On the court, getting to [the ball] is a lot easier,” Kaplon said.
The extra effort seems to be working — Kaplon is on pace to break her previous record of 176 kills with 118 halfway through the season. After competing for regular playing time on last season’s team, she is now a key piece of the rotation, despite the fact that the team lost only one player to graduation. In the Western New England Tournament, she led the team to a clean sweep of the field and won the tournament MVP award.
This is Kaplon’s second season at Emerson after transferring from Carnegie Mellon University, where she played volleyball for the Tartans. At Carnegie Mellon, Kaplon said the academic focus was more on math and science.
“I decided that’s not really what I want to do with my life,” said Kaplon. She said she hopes to pursue internships in magazine writing or marketing.
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Aside from hitting the gym, Kaplon also competed in a beach volleyball league, which she said helped her become more accurate with her attacks.
“It’s a very different game,” she said. “You have to think more about where other people are on the court, where you’re hitting the ball. Trying to hit the ball hard isn’t going to work.”
First-year head coach Ben Read has noticed her improvement even in his short time working with her.
“One of the biggest parts of her game that she improved upon was being consistent,” Read said. “If the set isn’t perfect, she finds ways to put it in play.”
Fellow outside hitter and senior Maddie Breeland remembers that Kaplon’s attacks were often wild and inconsistent when she first joined the team.
“The one thing that scared me about her when she first joined was that she would hit the ball so hard, just kill it, but it wasn’t in the court,” Breeland said. “This year, she gets up there really high, and she hits just as hard, but she’s found the 30 x 30.”
Though she is listed as an outside hitter, her game has many facets. This season against Great Northeast Athletic Conference rival Rivier, she posted 24 digs to go along with 17 kills as the Lions pulled out a comeback victory in five sets.
“She had many hats on the court. I think she played almost every position except middle blocker,” Letourneau said, referring to the 2010 season.
That season, Kaplon was used in a utility role. Along with the kills, she had 406 digs and 126 assists, despite not being a setter. According to Read, she is one of the team’s top passers.
Within the team role call, Read said Kaplon is the type of player who leads more by example.
“She’s not someone who’s going to be very loud and a cheerleader on the court,” he said. “She is loud with her attacking. The sound the ball makes when she hits it does more than the cheering after a big kill.”
emEvan Sporer, sports editor of the/em emBeacon and member of the Emerson volleyball team, did not edit this article. Eyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter /emem@prymetymechris. /em