Sometimes the road to achieving your goals takes more twists and turns than you expect. Graduate student Kylie Deberg has played volleyball at three different schools throughout her collegiate career. Thus, she knows this feeling all too well.
Coming out of high school in Hudson, Iowa, as the No. 15 recruit in the nation with over 1,000 career kills, multiple All-State honors and an NICL Newcomer of the Year award, Deberg’s options for her collegiate volleyball career were plentiful. She decided to spend her freshman year at Illinois, but later transferred to Missouri for the remaining years of her undergraduate career.
While at Missouri, Deberg was a three-time AVCA All-America selection and an All-SEC team member. She set the school record in kills per set (4.31) and points per set (5.11). In the 2021 spring season, right before coming to LSU, Deberg led the SEC in kills (385), kills per set (4.38), points (450) and points per set (5.11).
Leading into the 2021 NCAA Tournament with Missouri, Deberg still did not think she would play indoor volleyball again. She had committed to play beach volleyball for LSU in October of 2020, and even though she knew she would get the indoor year back, Deberg was unsure if her heart was in it.
It was not until after the NCAA Tournament with Missouri that she made the decision that she was not done with her indoor volleyball career.
“After knowing I would get another year of indoor because of COVID, I wanted to move on and not play indoor, but I didn’t want to end the way that we ended the season at Missouri. I wanted to have a better final season and I got the opportunity to,” Deberg explained, regarding her decision to play indoor in addition to beach.
“Kylie has brought a different level of maturity and a different vision to our program,” said indoor volleyball head coach Fran Flory. “She has been a great addition. One of the best things she brings is a true work ethic and a joy to train and learn.”
From one team of Tigers to the next, Deberg is able to have fun with the fact that she is now playing for a team that she used to play against. She wants to use her experience and her ability to stay composed in tough situations as an asset for leadership on her new team.
“It was cool playing against them and looking back, it’s funny now. We’re a really good team and I think once we get more used to each other, it will be even better,” Deberg said. “I just want to try and make everyone else that’s around me better and always helping out my teammates when they need it. If we can do that, then we’ll be good.”
Deberg credits her competitiveness to one person: herself. She grew up with a large age gap between her and her older sisters, so mostly came up by herself, and thinks her “win every single time” mindset came from her own developmental journey.
In addition to her win-focused mentality, Deberg prides herself on her superior communication.
“I communicate well with my team and I’m very composed when I play. I don’t show negative emotion and try to stay level. Since we have a freshman setter right now, I think that will help her to be able to do her job,” Deberg stated.
However, just like any great athlete, she is aware of her weaknesses and is actively working on improving them.
“Moving on to the next play is my weakness,” Deberg said. “If I miss a serve, shank a pass or miss a kill, I have trouble moving on right away. It takes me a point or two to move on, and I usually mess up on the next point. I think about what I did wrong a lot and that’s definitely not something that I should do. To improve on my weaknesses, I should be able to move on. I started doing a lot of visualizing which has started to help.”
Deberg’s goals for herself and for her team align in ways that push her to the highest level of her sports. Individually, Deberg wants to play professionally after her LSU career, secure her master’s degree and become a coach.
“She would be able to have a super successful international professional career if she chose to do that. I am certainly going to encourage her to do that,” Flory said.
Personal goals aside, Deberg is all about her team and keeps its goals at the forefront of her mind. “Our goal is obviously to win a national championship. We look at each week and each game, taking it one day at a time,” Deberg said.