After playing four years of varsity volleyball at Los Altos High School and falling just short of winning section and regional championships, Louisa “Lulu” Kishton recently claimed a title trophy in the sport.
In her senior season at Johns Hopkins University, Kishton led her school to its first NCAA Division III title. The straight-set win over defending champ Emory University completed a perfect fall season for the Blue Jays – and they did it with only 10 players.
“We worked hard in the offseason and the season prior, and we knew that if we could stay healthy with our small roster, we had a really good shot,” Kishton said. “Going into my last season, I just wanted to leave it all on the court.”
While the small number of players limited the number of drills the team could run and how many injuries it could withstand, Kishton said she largely attributes Hopkins’ success to the close-knit community created by the players before her.
“They showed us what it looks like to be a good teammate, a good upperclassman and a great leader, in addition to encouraging us to give more, work harder and put in the effort,” Kishton said, referring to players she met as a freshman at the Baltimore-based university.
The outside hitter said she gained valuable experience during her first three years on the team under head coaches Tim Cole (freshman year) and Jenn Feldmann (sophomore and junior years). Her senior season, Matt Troy returned as coach after six years at Mary Washington University.
When Troy returned, the team wrote a list of goals for the season that included treat every game like a championship, exemplify the positivity they want to see in their teammates and build a genuine relationship with trust and respect with every player and coach.
Troy said Kishton – one of the team’s two seniors – played a major role in helping the Blue Jays fulfill those goals.
“She’s such a phenomenal player, and she’s so humble,” he said. “At the same time, you know she never wants a whole lot of attention, she just wants to do what she can to help the team and the program. I think the maturity level she brought to the team this year helped us in achieving our goals.”
He added that many of the younger players looked up to Kishton, who led the team in digs and was second in kills.
“(She) is never afraid to be herself,” he said. “And I think because of that she gets such a great amount of respect from everyone around her.”
Winning was also on their minds when the players set their goals, which included capturing the regional championship, qualifying for the NCAA tournament and winning at least 20 matches.
Kishton noted one of her favorite memories of the season occurred at Hopkins’ only five-set match, when the team’s right-side hitter had to leave with severe leg cramps, replaced by a freshman setter.
“She just came out and it wasn’t really her position, but she just did her job and that was a really cool moment for her, and also for the rest of the team to see her step up like that,” Kishton said.
The team proved as successful off the court as on. With a cumulative grade point average of 3.66, Hopkins earned an AVCA Academic Team Award for posting at least a 3.30 GPA.
Off the court, Kishton is a chemical and biomolecular engineering student with a 3.97 GPA.
“For (her) to be able to do what she did on the court and off the court just speaks volumes about her as a person,” Troy said.
After she graduates in May, Kishton said she plans to work in the biotechnology industry before entering graduate school.
Troy said Kishton will be missed next season.
“It’s going to be certainly hard to find someone to come in and replace a lot of what (she) brought to this team,” he said. “It was an absolute joy to coach her.”