Vision. Maturity. Adaptability.
They all are at Sarah Kirkwood’s elbow when she cocks her arm to slam another kill shot at an opposing volleyball team.
“Vision is huge, especially when you’re seeing four hands in front of you, blocking at the net, every time you swing,” says Kirkwood (Col ’08).
Forgive the blockers if they feel frustrated. Early this season, Kirkwood shattered UVA’s record of 1,536 career kill shots, a mark set in 2000 by Deanna Zwarich.
She also surpassed the mark of 167 career service aces set by her sister, Emily Kirkwood (Col ’07), and holds the record for career attack attempts.
“These kinds of records are a lot more about the role you’ve been given on a team,” says the Tampa, Fla., native and team co-captain. “I was fortunate enough to come into a program where they needed me the first game of the first season.
“A lot of things have to line up right to get a record,” she says. “I think an individual record is a testament to the team dynamic.”
Coach Melissa Shelton says numbers alone don’t reflect Kirkwood’s accomplishments.
“Sarah’s passion for the game, her strong work ethic and her drive to accept nothing but excellence from herself have led our team to many victories during her career,” Shelton says.
As much as Kirkwood has a knack for kill shots, she also is acquiring skills to heal. A fourth-year cognitive science major, she is on a pre-med track.
In addition to her UVA records, Kirkwood has racked up conference honors galore. She’s been named to the All-ACC team three times and the All-East Region team by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
Her academic resumé sparkles equally. She received UVA’s Ralph Sampson Scholarship Award in 2006, has been honored as an academic All-American by ESPN The Magazine and is living on the Lawn.
That last distinction alone is making for a memorable final year, one that she’s doing her best to savor. “I’m trying to get the most out of this that I possibly can, even if that means sleeping only once a week.”