For Kelly Murphy, things just seem to be getting better all the time. From a stellar college career at the University of Florida, to training in the USA Volleyball Gym in Anaheim, to a Gold Medal in Milan, and now an American star of the Ageo Medics in Japan, what could possibly be next? Kelly's journey is far from complete, and ultimately the big prize still awaits in Rio.
Looking back, her terrific "Sophomore" season with the American squad was one for the ages! Murphy's steady play as an opposite was one of the main reasons the US captured Gold at the World Championships. She capped off an incredible summer by leading the team in total points(370) averaging 4.35 a set. She saved the best for last as she totaled 157pts in Milan in route to Team USA's first ever Gold Medal.
Kelly brings all the tools to the court. She is steady and dependable from the back row as a passer, and gives the team extra options hitting from behind the ten foot line. Her left handedness makes her the perfect opposite, and she hammers the ball from that position. She also adds a extra set of hands on out of systems plays from her years of development as a setter.
Kelly Murphy is on a roll, and that's what makes it so cool that she decided to take the time to answer our "Five Questions" all the way from Ageo, Japan!
University of Florida
Playing and living in Japan this year has to be such an awesome experience. What surprises you about life in Japan, and what is your favorite thing to do when not playing/practicing?
So far I have really loved my experience in Japan. Everyone I've met has been so nice and welcoming. They always do whatever they can to help me and make me feel comfortable and so far my season here has flown by. I wasn't that surprised by it because I had heard this about Japan before but it still amazes me just how organized everything is. Everything is always right on time and everything and everyone is always where they are supposed to be. On my few days off I have done some exploring. I went to a place called Shibuya where they have a ton of shopping and a ton of people. It was really crazy to see all the people crossing the crosswalk from up in the shopping mall. I've also been to Tokyo a few times to try different restaurants. One day I was craving some Mexican food so my translator found a great place only a few train stops away from my town. I'm in a great location so it makes it really convenient to take the train a few stops over and I can find anything I could possibly need.
Going from Illinois to Florida, from Florida to Anaheim, from California to Japan is a lot of traveling. How hard is it keeping up with friends and family and what has been your favorite city along the way?
All the traveling has definitely made it really hard to keep up with people. Social media has been great for that. Especially my high school and college friends. I love that I can see what they've been up to through pictures like on Instagram or Facebook. I try to post a lot too so people can see the cool things that I get to experience while traveling. While in Japan I've been using FaceTime a lot. I try to talk with my family pretty regularly, my sisters are always near the phone so I know they're just a text message away. The thing that is hardest to get around is the time difference. I am 15 hours ahead of my family in Illinois and 14 hours ahead of my boyfriend in Florida, so there's only a few hours of the day where we're awake at the same time. I'm just happy that there are so many easy ways to keep in touch now a days. It makes this job a little easier. There are things I love about every city I've been in, picking a favorite is pretty hard! I always love going back to Chicago because my family is near there and I always have so much fun there. I also really loved Milan. I played club near there last season and we of course had the finals of the World Championships there. It's such a beautiful city with great shopping and great food.
So you are standing at the end line with the ball in your hand at match point in the World Championship. What is it like to have that kind of pressure and what is the thought process in that moment?
With Team USA the past two years we've done a lot of mental training and one of the things that we've talked about is to train that there are no "big moments." The way you prepare mentally should be the same whether it's a practice, a scrimmage, a first round match, or even a gold medal match. That way when the game is on the line, you don't feel overwhelmed with pressure because you've done it a million times before. So when I was back there serving I was thinking about where I needed to serve the ball and what I needed to do to get it there. I knew that if I did my job then my teammates could do theirs, so I just went back and served.
The Chinese mishandle that serve. What did the ball do, and how do you stay in focus with them so far out of system?
When we saw the pass was out of system we still had to prepare for a good hit. They had some great pin attackers that had been taking really good out of system swings all night. We knew we just had to get the ball up in front of the 10ft line for Alisha to set and our offense would be able to put the ball away. Everyone had done so well all tournament with staying focused on their job, of course that's what happened on the last play. Jordan dug a great ball, Alisha gave Kim a great look and Kim put it away!
You have enjoyed steady development as a player from your club/high school days to college at Florida and now with the National Team. What is the biggest factor in continuing to find new goals and what do you still want to get better at?
I have been really lucky with having some great coaches and teammates at every level I've played at. I love being able to contribute to the team in any way possible so that is my motivation for improving. I want whatever team I'm on to be in the best position possible to win. I really like having specific things to work on, whether that's footwork on my approach or tossing for my serve so that I can really focus on improving those details and see the progress. I want to keep getting better in all areas of the game. I'm grateful to be in situations with such knowledgeable coaches and supportive teammates who help me to do that.
Music seems to play an important role for the team in preparation for big matches. What is your current go to song for getting you amped up for contests? Who have you been hitting "skip" on lately?
I listen to a ton of different music before games! I usually just put all my songs on shuffle and listen to everything. I actually really like listening to country music.. it puts me in a great mood. Not too pumped up and not too mellow right before a match. But it really just depends on the day! Right now I have my Christmas playlist on repeat!
I never get tired of opening my email to find such great responses to my questions! Thank you Kelly for becoming part of the "Five Question" club! We truly cannot wait to see where you and your USA Volleyball teammates take us next. 2015 Omaha? 2016 Rio? See ya there Kelly!