In a season of highs and lows, the Bradley volleyball team has experienced both success and adversity. Despite the challenges, sophomore middle blocker Kendall Minta has been a building block for this young Braves side.
Minta resides in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, just 17 miles outside of the Twin Cities. She attended Eden Prairie High School and, after winning the team’s most improved player as a freshman, took Eden Prairie to a third-place finish in state her senior year.
“The competition in Minnesota high school volleyball is really tough,” Minta said. “My freshman year of high school we were not great, so I made it a goal to help build our team and by the time my senior year came we were competing with the best teams in the state.”
In the case of her college recruitment, Division I institutions had Kendall on their radar due to her raw ability and potential. Thanks to her time in club volleyball, Minta had already established connections with the Braves.
“I had a club coach, Kat Graf, and she played [at Bradley]. She was a senior when our seniors last year were freshman, so she knew a lot of the girls who were still on the team at the time and she knew the coaches,” Minta said.
“So she reached out to [the coaches] and told me that she really loved it, and I came on a visit. And as soon as I came here, I loved the girls and wanted to come here,” Minta added.
Minta became a force to be reckoned with for Bradley the moment she stepped on campus. As a freshman, she started 20 of the 26 games she appeared in and racked up 1.78 kills per set along with a hitting percentage of .243, the highest among the team’s starters.
The sophomore shined even more on the defensive end as she led the team in blocks with 102, the only player to eclipse triple digits in blocks on the team.
In her best match as a freshman, Minta helped the Braves pick up an MVC win over Missouri State with an outstanding 16 kills and 11 blocks.
“What Kendall was able to do last year is be really mentally solid and that’s what made her good,” head coach Alicia Williams said. “What is great about Kendall is that I believe she had more of an even route. She learned a lot from [seniors] Raeann Bergman and Karagan Coggin and McKenna Schieb as the older middles and she really took towards their mentorship, but she also had a steady enough mind to understand what she was good at.”
Entering her second year at Bradley, Minta’s defense has earned her recognition within the Missouri Valley Conference. She has a total of 112 blocks, which puts her third in the Valley. Her average of 1.09 blocks per set is fourth in the Valley.
Minta has been valuable on the offensive end as well, with top-five team placements in kills, points and attack percentage.
Minta’s teammates are amazed at how dominant and poised she has been during her first two years on the Hilltop. Fellow sophomore Gianna Ptaszek had high praise for Minta.
“Every single time she steps foot on the court – doesn’t matter what it is – she is just working really hard,” Ptaszek said. “She’s trying to be the best player she can be, the best teammate she can be. Every time Kendall does make an error, the next one is a kill. She just has that mindset of like, ‘I’m going to get the next one.’”
Although this season didn’t go the way the Braves wanted, Minta remains optimistic with future goals for the team.
“It hasn’t been the best season, but we have competed really hard against a lot of these teams and through the adversity we’ve shown that we can be a really good team,” Minta said.
“Taking that and along with all these newcomers coming in, we have some really competitive people coming in,” Minta added. “Hopefully being able to build on that and being able to compete in some of those losses that have been in five [sets] and really close like those will turn into wins.”
It will be interesting to see how the rest of this season plays out for Minta, the Braves and the future of this program as Minta becomes a building block for Williams’ team.