When Kloe Ruth started playing volleyball in the sixth grade, continuing on to the college level became an immediate goal. Yet, while she was striving to become a player talented enough to move on after high school, it took until last summer before she began to believe she had truly arrived.
Ruth normally went to Seward twice a week to play. After a while, coach Scott Mattera recognized her ability and had a word of advice.
"Every Sunday and Wednesday we had an open gym at Concordia with the coach there," Ruth said during a recent interview. "Eventually he just started doing his own thing called Nebraska Revolution."
Mattera suggested to Ruth that she go visit Bellevue. Ruth said that her desire to play college volleyball was reignited after she visited some campuses, but Mattera was right about Bellevue.
Her first visit sparked some interest. A second visit in the fall sealed the deal as Ruth committed to play volleyball for the Bruins.
It was just the right fit.
"(It was) just the environment," she said. "(Coach Trish Siedlik) kind of showed me around the campus, and it seemed like a good fit for me."
While the second visit happened in the fall, Ruth said she officially decided to become a Bruin during Christmas break.
"Mainly, when I went to go visit is when I finally decided I really wanted to play in college," she said.
Siedlik invited Ruth over to one of Bellevue's recruiting camps during the summer.
"That one was kind of an eye opener, but the second visit near the end of the year was when I really decided to go there," Ruth said.
It was "the quickness and intensity of the game, and then just having a team effort" that has made the game enjoyable for Ruth.
Given that, it shouldn't come as a surprise that meeting new teammates and adjusting to the speed of the college game are what excites Ruth the most about moving on to the next level. She's also interested to learn her new teammates and find a new chemistry.
She's planning on majoring in Business Administration and is still deciding on a career field.
While she's happy about playing at Bellevue, Ruth will always look back fondly on Aquinas and miss her time as a Monarch. This year's senior class put together back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in program history since a decade earlier and defeated Columbus Scotus for the first time since 1988.
Ruth was one of three Monarchs chosen for the Central Community College-Columbus All-Star game played at Columbus High School last week. Teammates Breanna Stouffer and Micaiah Vrbka joined Ruth on the All-Star rosters.
"I'm just going to miss the people and environment at school, but I'm excited to go play at Bellevue with new people and a new environment," Ruth said. "(It's) just a nice little change up."
When asked what her strengths were as a volleyball player, Ruth once again pointed to her ability to get along with her team.
"I'm a decent hitter and blocker," she said. "I have a pretty positive attitude towards other teammates. I'm a team player. I always try to look on the bright side. That's what I've always tried to do."
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net