Leading on and off the court, Keck on pace for best season
Currently on pace for her best season with the Cougars, Senior Natalie Keck is everything one could hope for in a team leader.
Through 19 games, Keck is currently riding a streak of 18 consecutive matches with double-digit digs and, with 380 digs on the season, she is tied for No. 16 in the nation and second in the American Athletic Conference.
“We’re going to miss her when she’s gone, that’s for sure,” said head coach Kaddie Platt.
“She’s such a great serve-receive person and very much a stability block in our serve receive, in addition to making great plays for us defensively.”
Keck came to Houston in 2011 from Louisville, KY, where she was named to the All-State, All-Region and All-District First Teams. As a freshman, Keck played a key role for the Cougars primarily as a defensive specialist, picking up 499 digs with 4.19 digs per set while appearing in all 30 matches totaling 119 sets.
She entered her sophomore season as the primary libero, leading the Cougars with 404 digs while recording a .960 receiving percentage on 682 total attempts. She had her best match when it counted most, racking up a then career-high 31 digs in the Conference-USA championship match against Rice.
Heading into her junior season Keck was named captain by her teammates, a role she has relished.
“Her strongest quality would be her leadership ability,” Platt said. “She’s driven and focused and she’s that way every point in matches and in practice.”
Flourishing in her leadership role, Keck has had her best season as a Cougar thus far, leading the team with 549 digs, the fifth most for a single-season in school history.
Her play was rewarded as she was named the Delta Zeta Classic MVP Libero, the Sawyer Camillo Memorial MVP and to the AAC Honor Roll as well.
The 2014 season has already shown it will be a memorable one as Keck picked up a career-high 39 digs against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, tying for second all-time in school history, and has a career-high 11 matches with at least 20 digs.
Keck is currently second all-time in school history with 4.37 digs per match and third all-time with 1832 total digs, 83 shy of second place.
“She’s always pumping us up and letting us know when we can do better; she has confidence in everyone on the court,” freshman Sarah Afflerbaugh said.
Being an upperclassman and a leader, Keck knows her role isn’t limited to the court.
“As a leader, I like to think that I set the standard for the others to go out there and work your hardest every single day, whether it’s practice or game,” Keck said.
“I hope all of them know they can come to me on or off the court, and they know I’m going to be behind them cheering.”