Cole 'Digs' Her Way into the Record Books
WILMORE, Ky. - During their weekend swing in Mobile, Ala., for the SHC/UMobile Tournament, the Asbury Eagles volleyball team took a second to turn the attention toward senior libero Kelly Cole.
A career’s worth of work culminated with her sixth dig of Saturday’s first game—against the University of Mobile—as Cole eclipsed the program-best mark of 2,134 digs in a career.
Although quite the accomplishment for a player to eclipse 2,000 digs in a career, the mark is just two seasons old. Hannah (Wheeler) Budd ‘11 set the mark in the 2011 season and was just the first player in Eagles’ history to eclipse 2,000 in a career.
“I was really excited when I found out (the record) was within reach,” Cole said. “I am so appreciative and excited that I’ve had the opportunity to achieve this goal with this team.”
“Hannah was a great example for me when I came here, as both a libero and a leader,” Cole added when asked about playing with Budd. “She was always so confident and consistent in her passing.”
Cole came into the opening of the season needing just 56 digs to tie Budd. She collected 91 over the course of the weekend’s four games, putting her at 2169 heading into tonight’s matchup against Bethel (Tenn.) University.
"Hannah had a tremendous career at Asbury setting the digs record by a wide margin. Her passing was the cornerstone of our defense and transition offense,” head coach JP Rader said. “But from the first day that Kelly came on to the team and played a year alongside Hannah, I knew that the dig record would be broken quickly.
“Kelly has been the heart and soul of our team the past four years playing incredible defense,” the fifth year head coach added of the record holder Cole. “Her instincts and ability to read hitters puts her in excellent position to bring up an incredible number of balls. The past several years she has also grown in to the role of team leader to complement and enhance her skills on the court.”
When asked if he thought the record would be broken anytime soon, Rader replied, “The last dig record did not last long; however, after this season is over the number Kelly puts up will stand for a very long time."
Cole joined the Eagles in the 2010 season, Budd’s senior season. She almost immediately garnered respect as a defensive specialist for the team and was given libero status early in her career. Cole has played in every match (134) since joining the Eagles.
In 2011, her sophomore campaign, Cole compiled an astounding 992 digs, which over the 185 games played averages out to be 5.36 per game—a mark that is also a single season best. She followed that season with another exemplary performance, turning in 5.16 digs per game in 2012.
If Cole continues to perform at her current career average of 4.61 digs per game for the remainder of the season, she will finish her career with well over 2700 by regular season’s end. Unfortunately for the senior setter the NAIA record for digs in a career is 3569, set by Amy Eckenfels of Campbellsville University from 2003-2006.