GVSU volleyball's Kendall Yerkes does it all
Whenever someone is making a custom player in a sports video game, there is always an attribute called “intangibles,” or an unmeasurable skill that can’t be measured on a stat sheet.
If Grand Valley State volleyball player Kendall Yerkes were in a video game, her intangibles would rank among the best in her class.
Yerkes has the skill set to do everything well on the court but doesn't necessarily excel statistically in one category. However, during her only season with GVSU, Yerkes led the team in digs and finished fourth in kills and fifth in total blocks.
“I think for her to come in and lead the team that way is a huge bonus for us,” said Jason Johnson, associate head coach of the Laker volleyball team. “I think especially going into this season, it’s an even bigger positive knowing we have someone back who has been through it, understands it and can help with the success of the season, as well as helping to acclimate the younger players.”
Yerkes is also one of two players to start every game and play in all 108 sets throughout the season. Her versatile play style is one that warrants a high level of confidence from her coaching staff.
Leading the team in digs with 345, she offers the defensive ability for GVSU to run its offense smoothly and without much worry. Per set, she averages 3.19 digs, statistically proving that nearly every time an opposing player spikes the ball, Yerkes is likely going to be there to save the point.
Yerkes isn’t the type of player that other teams will form a game plan around, but she will still do some damage on the scoreboard.
Offensively, she had 188 kills on the season, meaning she averaged about 1.74 kills per set. Not only was she able to lock down the defense, but she was able to notch some points as well.
Yerkes also logged 5 double-doubles (kills and digs) on the year, including four of her first five matches.
When recruiting Yerkes, coach Deanne Scanlon and Johnson knew she would be used as a sort of utility player because of her “jack-of-all-trades” ability.
During her sophomore year of high school, Yerkes was first shopping herself around to different universities. When she caught GVSU’s eye, both Yerkes and former teammate Maura Smith were invited to scrimmage with the team.
“It was exciting, but I was very nervous,” Yerkes said. “Everyone has their eye on you, and you are scared to make mistakes. I knew, though, that I would fit in here.”
Yerkes, after only one year, has not made an All-GLIAC team, nor did she receive any GLIAC accolades. Regardless of being the cog that makes the machine work, she is the one who receives the least amount of praise.
Because she doesn’t get every dig or every kill, many do not notice how vital Yerkes’ contributions are to the Lakers. However, when asked about whether she thinks she received enough recognition for her efforts, she was grateful for what she has.
“I think I get enough credit, especially from my teammates,” Yerkes said. “Being an outside, it’s more of a position that holds everyone together. Seeing that some of my teammates made (an All-GLIAC team), it should be a reachable goal for me if I just keep working.”
On the court, Yerkes appears to be in the zone constantly. She always seems focused and completely engaged in the game. Off the court, Yerkes is reportedly a different story.
“Off the court, she’s kind of loud,” said Katie Randolph, a former club-team teammate said. “She is definitely fun and silly and fun-loving, but on the court she doesn’t get too crazy.”
Randolph also spoke to how well-composed Yerkes is.
“She was always someone who I could trust to give the ball to, someone I knew who knew what to do with it, even in tough, high-pressure situations," Randolph said.
Yerkes’ mental toughness should be able to push her game to the next level. The sophomore slump is not a myth, however. Players are not always guaranteed to improve just because they are a year older.
Yerkes has shown she is able to improve enough every year to get to this point, and now she just needs to stay the course. GVSU women’s volleyball found a gem with Yerkes, a player who can do it all.