When she connects with the volleyball, Gabby Kepley’s lethal left hand is a menace to opposing players.
Off the court, the North Creek High senior and 4A KingCo most valuable player often smacks her hands together when speaking, emphasizing her point. Not too far removed from putting an exclamation point on a volleyball kill.
“I feel like whether I do it or somebody else does it, it’s just so amazing,” she said of a thunderous spike. “It’s just a rush of excitement and adrenaline and we’re just like, ‘Yes! we got this.’ ‘Let’s do our job.’ ‘Here we go.’”
Right to the 4A state tournament, which will take place this weekend at the Yakima Valley SunDome. The 4A KingCo champion Jaguars (18-3) will take on Richland at 8 a.m. Nov. 16 in the opening round.
Kepley, who stands 5-foot-10 in the opposite role, signed her letter of intent on Nov. 14 to play volleyball at Western Washington University next season.
On earning the MVP honor, Kepley knocks the attention away from herself.
“Well, obviously, I couldn’t do it without my teammates and so that’s been super fun. It’s been super great to play with that group of people,” said Kepley, noting that Alisa Kim (Gonzaga University commit) was defensive player of the year, Jenna Howard and Allison Wilks were first-teamers, and Sara Fadely and Korynne Leon were honorable mentions.
“We go so deep as a team, talent-wise and just with support and everything. We always try and better each other,” Kepley added.
Kepley took up volleyball in fifth grade while attending the St. Brendan school in Bothell. She was about 5-7 at that time and said with a laugh that she wasn’t a very good player at the start. Since then, she’s added three inches to her height, tons of kills to her stat sheet and a KingCo MVP honor to her resume.
Speaking of height, her parents are both 6-3 and her little brother towers at 6-5. She has cousins at 6-6 and 6-7 and her grandfather — a former St. Louis University basketball star who was drafted into the NBA — gets top billing at 6-8.
“Kind of got the short end of the stick in my family,” she said with a laugh, but she has the jump to hammer the volleyball on her side.
The Reporter asked Kepley a series of questions for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into her life.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Bothell?
I really like pasta, so any Italian food restaurant. I love Olive Garden’s breadsticks.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
When people blow their nose really loud in class.
What’s something unique about yourself?
We used to have pet ducks.
What’s your dream vacation spot?
I really wanna go to Hawaii. If not Hawaii, probably somewhere tropical, like maybe the Bahamas.
Who’s your idol growing up?
Definitely my mom, just because we’re super family oriented and I feel like a big part of that has been my mom. She’s always been pushing me and my brothers to be close and pushing good morals and just really pushing me to focus on volleyball and go for my dreams. (She also mentioned the importance of the closeness with her many cousins and her entire family.)
What’s the best piece of advice you would give to somebody?
For somebody in volleyball, I would say definitely just work your hardest. If you love it and if you have enough drive, then you’re gonna go somewhere with it as long as you put in the work and you just stay positive all the time. If it’s your passion, run with it.
What’s your main goal in life?
I wanna be a teacher, I wanna study elementary education as of right now.
What’s your favorite kind of music?
I love country music. Like Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Zac Brown Band. I went to a Zac Brown Band concert over the summer with some friends and my mom and some other moms, and it was just the best time.
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Whatever it is as long as it’s not scary, ‘cause I’m not a horror movie person. Everything scares me.
What’s a special skill you would like to learn?
I’d definitely like to learn how to hit with my right hand. I think it would be cool to write with my right hand, too. (She’s lefty the whole way.)