Kelly Murphy ’08 wins Bronze at Rio Olympics

Kelly Murphy

JCA graduate Kelly Murphy (’08) is a member of the 2016 U.S.  Olympic women’s volleyball team.

Because of the circumstances surrounding who plays when and how often, the dynamic between Kelly Murphy and Karsta Lowe could have become contentious. The 6-foot-2 Murphy, the 2008 graduate of Joliet Catholic Academy, started all eight Olympic matches at right-side hitter and even starred for the U.S. women’s volleyball team. The 6-4 Lowe, a UCLA product, entered on a consistent double substitution by U.S. coach Karch Kiraly and then sometimes finished matches instead of Murphy.

On lesser teams, drama possibly enters the picture as well. But after Team USA clinched the bronze medal Saturday afternoon with a 25-23, 25-27, 25-22, 25-19 win over the Netherlands, when Lowe and Murphy met, one thing was obvious to JCA coach Christine Scheibe. The tears of joy. “Kelly is, and has always has been, the consummate team player,” Scheibe said. “Plain and simple, she’s an Angel. And Lowe is just a great player and a great person. At this level, with all the hard work that they’ve put into it, there’s no time for anything except that. There’s no me in Kelly or Lowe. Everything was about bringing home that bronze medal for the United States.”

With Murphy and Lowe again trading places throughout the match, Team USA beat the Netherlands for the second time in the 2016 Olympics to capture its second bronze medal and fifth medal in all since 1992. Murphy made an impact with five kills, a block kill, an ace and a dig against the Dutch, while Lowe came in off the bench and contributed four kills, an ace and a dig. More importantly, it meant another medal for Murphy, who led the Angels to back-to-back state trophies in Class AA in 2005 and 2006.

“I think it’s an amazing accomplishment,” Scheibe said. “I’m sure in her mind she wanted the gold, but bronze is something to be very proud of and she’ll remember it the rest of her life. We will remember it, too. We’ll also never forget how it started with Kelly bringing home medals for fourth place and third place with us when she played like a state champion. She always plays like a champion.”

In Game 1, Murphy’s kill sparked the U.S to erase a 21-20 deficit and build a 22-21 lead. Murphy’s kill put the Americans ahead 2-0 in Game 2, and another kill by Murphy increased the edge to 15-12. Murphy’s ace gave the U.S. a 4-3 lead in Game 3. Lowe took over from there for Game 4. Twenty minutes later, the celebration began, culminating with Murphy’s tears of joy with Lowe.

“Those are moments you feel forever,” said Scheibe, who has guided JCA to three state titles, three state runners-up and eight state trophies. “We’re overjoyed for Kelly and her family. It’s incredibly special to be an Olympic medalist, and Kelly can say that now. Amazing. She’s one in a million.”

Article courtesy of the Joliet Catholic Academy Official Girls Volleyball Facebook Page.

Olympic Preview

She’s traveled around the world in pursuit of her dream. From Wilmington to Joliet to Florida to Japan, Joliet Catholic Academy graduate Kelly Murphy (’08) grew up playing volleyball with making the Olympics always in the back of her mind. That dream came true Tuesday morning when Murphy was named as one of 12 players for the U.S. women’s volleyball team that will play at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Murphy, a 6-foot-2 right-side hitter, is one of eight newcomers for top-ranked Team USA, including former high school rival and outside hitter Kelsey Robinson of St. Francis. Team USA, which has taken silver medals in the last two Olympics, has won six of its last eight tournaments and just finished runner-up to Olympic host Brazil in the World Grand Prix under coach Karch Kiraly.

Murphy, who led back-to-back JCA teams to the state finals in 2005 and 2006 in Class AA, was one of Team USA’s eight regular rotation players in the final against Brazil. Murphy is the first Angel volleyball player to make an Olympic team.

“I know this has been a dream of Kelly’s since she first started playing volleyball, and all of her time, effort and hard work has been rewarded,” JCA coach Christine Scheibe said.

“We couldn’t be more happy for her as a program and as a school community. Personally, it’s the potential that I saw in her the first day of summer camp when she was a freshman in 2004. She was already that good, and she has only gotten better over the years because of who she is as a person and the family that she comes from. The Murphys are just a very, very special family to our program. Now, we hope that Kelly leads the U.S. to that elusive gold medal.

– Article courtesy of the Joliet Catholic Academy Official Girls Volleyball Facebook Page.

Links to articles about Kelly throughout the entire 2016 Olympic Games in Rio:

Kelly Murphy’s Olympic volleyball potential was evident early on – Joliet Herald News, July 16, 2016

Kelly Murphy Team USA Website Profile

Olympic volleyball dream comes true for Joliet Catholic’s Kelly Murphy – Chicago Tribune

JCA grad Kelly Murphy selected for U.S. women’s volleyball Olympics team – Joliet Herald News

Volleyball Olympian and JCA grad Kelly Murphy joins 1340 WJOL on air – WJOL Radio

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