Laurens-Marathon twins powering area's top-ranked volleyball team
Kylie to Kacie for the kill.
The sisterly combo is proving deadly for Laurens-Marathon's volleyball team this season.
And it's playing like a broken record throughout Northwest Iowa gymnasiums as the Class 1A No. 9-ranked Chargers seek a Northwest Conference title - and more - in their first year since exiting the Twin Lakes.
Kylie and Kacie Woodley, the senior twin sisters on L-M's volleyball team, are among the team leaders in all major statistical categories for a Chargers club that is 18-5 overall, 5-0 in the Northwest and turning heads after losing Bryn Johnson, Kelsey Meyer and Lindsey Siepker to graduation.
The 17-year-old daughters - for the record, Kacie was born first - of Rick and Kerrie Woodley of Laurens are a synchronized blur on the court, the result of years of AAU matches, summer camps across the state and a little family intuition.
So which Woodley's which?
Kacie's a 5-foot-10 returning all-Twin Lakes second-team hitter who plays middle and outside and led the team in blocks and kills last year. She's flooring 3.6 kills a game this season.
Kylie's a 5-7 1/2 setter making a return to her native position after playing defensive specialist last season while Siepker piloted the offense. She's got 435 assists to her credit, good for seven per game.
Kacie produces spikes that could dent drywall. Kylie thrives on pinpoint setting.
Kacie's a first baseman in softball, a post in basketball and a trackster.
Kylie's a left fielder, a point guard, a golfer and a dancer.
Kacie's aggressive and more outspoken. Kylie's quieter, more of a behind-the-scenes person.
Both get the job done in the classroom, Chargers coach Kerry Feekes points out. Kylie's ranked first in the senior class and Kacie's second.
"First and third," Kylie corrects her coach.
"I'm third now - eighth thousandths of a point," Kacie said.
Kylie eats an apple and granola bar before matches. She always puts her right shoe on before her left, never unties her shoes, and insists upon wearing a pink headband and the same ponytail. Kacie doesn't have any odd superstitions - at least that she's willing to confess.
Kacie thrives on the feeling she gets after a big win, such as when the Chargers knocked off Okoboji at the Hartley Tourney last year.
"No one thought Laurens-Marathon would be this good, and then we go out and beat this supposedly big powerhouse," she said. "It was awesome."
Kylie likes the power aspect of the game.
"I like it when people slam the ball on the ground and people go, 'oh, geez,'" she said.
"They're both really smart and able to figure stuff out on the court," said Feekes, who has won 388 matches in his 25 years with the program. "Their leadership skills compliment each other. Kylie tends to take care of people and worry about their feelings. Kacie's more like, 'let's get it going.' When Kacie doesn't get the set she wants, she'll be telling Kylie what she should set.
"Kylie kind of explains to her, 'you're gonna get what you get.'"
"I'm not a patient person," Kacie said with a laugh.
Most of the time, she's not waiting on Kylie to deliver, though. Kylie, who has fought shoulder problems in the past, says she's at home with her position this year.
"Plus I don't quite have the vertical (Kacie) does," she said. "She's pretty good about hitting everything. She doesn't complain too much."
The twins are planning to attend college together and play volleyball at BVU or Simpson but for now they're hoping to take a tightknit L-M squad to a league title and possibly to state, before which they'd likely have to face 1A No. 3 North Sentral Kossuth, which beat them earlier this season.
"We don't really like to talk about it because then you try and set your goals too high and think too far in the future," said Kylie.
But the Chargers appreciate their rating and view it partially as a sign of respect for the program, said Feekes, who admitted the Twin Lakes was a tougher league to play in.
"That conference is predominantly 2A and upper 1A and just always competitive," he said. "We have to develop better as a team before we can really talk about (postseason aspirations). When we see better teams, we'll know better."
Feekes said he knew he'd play Kylie at setter a year in advance, and that Megan Cleveland and Diana Johnsen could play big defensive specialist roles, which they've done this year.
"We have a junior (Jordan Sundblad) that has about a year and a half of varsity experience. And we also knew that our sophomore class was pretty good," Feekes said. "We kind of take the stress off them because two of them don't even have to play the back row at all."
Said Kylie, "It helped that everyone was like, you know what, we can do this. We all just went in with a good attitude and everyone's open to learning.
"People thought we weren't going to be that good this year, and we're trying to prove them wrong."
Feekes has had his share of coaching peers ask him if his twins will be graduating sometime in the next decade - coaches who know better.
Unfortunately, he can no longer reply, "one more year."
"(Schaller-Crestland coach Marilyn Murra) has asked me that numerous times," he said with a laugh. "She knows exactly what grade they're in. It's a nice combination to have, and they get along really well together, which is great.
"Just having the two of them close together is a nice experience."