Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Pierre Bibbs
Sports Editor 

Kalal recaps college volleyball career


April 22, 2020

Mary Grace Kalal

Former Malta High School standout and Zortman native Mary Grace Kalal has finished up her college volleyball career. Kalal had been in Malta during the COVID-19 quarantine so the PCN caught up with the former Malta High School spiker.

"I feel like it went pretty well," Kalal said. "It went a lot further and longer than I thought it would."

Kalal played her junior college volleyball career at Lake Region State College (LRSC) during her junior college year and then transferred to Mayville State University in Mayville, N.D., to play her junior and senior seasons as a Comet.

"Mary was an absolute pleasure to coach," Mayville Head Coach Lindey Johnson said. "She was willing to play whatever position I put her in and worked hard every day to improve. She was a dedicated athlete and an awesome teammate. We will miss having Mary on our team!"

Mary Grace is the daughter of John and Candy Kalal of Zortman. She graduated from Malta High School in 2016.

During her track career at Malta, she was the 2016 Northern B Divisional Discus Champion and took sixth in javelin at state. She was a part of the championship team that year. She was also a part of the 2015 and 2016 M-ette Basketball team that won the State B title in both seasons.

After graduating from MHS, Kalal enrolled to LRSC, a junior college in Devil's Lake, N.D., and played for the Royals for two seasons. Kalal also played with Adrianna Bibeau, who also graduated from Malta High School in 2016. Kalal and Bibeau were introduced to LRSC by former Malta coach Julia Kirkland, who knew Royals Head Coach Brigitte Greywater. Kirkland and Greywater were teammates at Minot State University.

"Coach Greywater reached out to Coach (Kirkland) and asked if she had any players that would be interested in moving on," Kalal said.

Kalal and Bibeau came to mind because both athletes had expressed interest in playing beyond high school.

Playing the right side, Kalal didn't get much playing time during her freshman season because the school had an established starter in that position. Mary Grace did get playing time during her sophomore season and she said that things went well.

After her sophomore season at LRSC, Kalal turned to Mayville State because of their educational program. She was joined on the visit by Mayville Head Coach Lindsey Johnson. Mayville had an enrollment of 1,500 students.

"It was nice and small, which is something that I liked because I am used to the small-town setting," Kalal said. "They were really welcoming and they took care of you more as a student and you didn't feel like a number there."

She said that the coaches made the team feel like family and were there for the players if they ever needed anything.

Kalal played on the junior varsity team in both seasons at Mayville but also had playing time on varsity during her senior season. Though she possesses a 6-foot frame, Kalal was used as a middle hitter for the first time in her career.

"It was a new experience for me because I hadn't played that position since my sophomore year of high school," Kalal said.

The middle was a position that Kalal would finish her career playing because Mayville had Hannah Bliss who started at the right side for four years at Mayville State.

Kalal enjoyed both of her seasons at Mayville but she said that the team showed growth in her senior season and she also became more comfortable with her teammates as their bond grew stronger. The team defeated Dakota State in Madison, S.D., in an away game for the first time since 2002, in a five-set game.

"The coach was pretty strong on team bonding and getting us to know our teammates," Kalal said.

She said that for preseason, the team was encouraged to stay in the dorms, locked in their rooms with four teammates to a room. If a teammate had to go to the store or for gas, then they had to take a teammate with them. Kalal said that she felt like teammates were a lot easier to get along with in her senior season.

"There was no drama and it felt more like a family," Kalal said. "I also felt like we had a good group of freshmen come in and we treated each other like equals."

During her time playing college volleyball, Kalal worked out with her team five days a week by lifting weights on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; with conditioning on Tuesday and Thursday. In order to make the cut and stay on the team, each teammate had to run a mile in under eight minutes before the preseason.

"The lifts were pretty intense," Kalal said.

Kalal said her favorite game was a JV win in her senior season over LRSC. She picked that game because she knew some of the girls from her old team. She also had a great time talking to Coach Greywater about how the teams had improved.

"They had a loud bench," Kalal said. "It was a bittersweet moment."

John and Candy Kalal stand with their daughter with Mary Grace Kalal. Courtesy Photo.

Kalal said that she had a lot of doubt in herself as a volleyball player coming out of high school and didn't know that she could compete on a collegiate level. She admitted that there were times that she wanted to quit because she felt like she wasn't excelling. But it was through the process that she was able to refocus and she learned a very valuable lesson.

"Don't underestimate yourself," Kalal said. "Don't set low standards for yourself. Set high goals because when you reach those goals, it will be a lot more fun because you had to push yourself to get there. Work hard for what you want."

Kalal is majoring in Physical Education with a minor in Coaching and Developmental Adaptive Physical Education at Mayville State. She will continue taking classes next fall and will be student teaching in the spring of 2021.


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