Badgers volleyball: Kelli Bates and Lauryn Gillis leave lasting impression on teammates
Kelli Bates and Lauryn Gillis have left their mark on the University of Wisconsin volleyball program. It says so right in the record book.
Bates, the wispy, bouncy 5-11 outside hitter from Bradley, Illinois, this year became just the sixth player in program history to record 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs. Her 1,045 kills rank 18th in program history and her 1,318 digs are 8th.
Gillis, the effervescent 6-1 outside hitter from New Castle, Indiana, also passed the 1,000 kill mark this season and now stands at 1,036, counting the 148 she got as a freshman at USC before transferring to UW.
But numbers only begin to tell the story of their impact on the program. When their teammates think about the two seniors who will be honored at Saturday night’s match against Rutgers at the UW Field House, they will remember them for their personalities and the energy they’ve brought to the team on a daily basis.
How will their teammates remember them? Here’s a sampling:
Bates on Gillis: “I think you know her personality just because of her smile. Her smile is so big and bright and she loves making other people smile. She’s just sunshine. I don’t know how else to explain it. She’s such a good friend, she’s really loyal and she wants to be the best teammate she can possibly be. Ever since she got here she’s been very teammate oriented. That’s her specialty. She’s able to talk to anybody about anything. Gilly is the perfect person to go to whenever you’re struggling or whenever you need somebody to brighten up your day.”
Gillis on Bates: “Bates is a player that has your back at all times. The example that comes to mind is when we played Iowa and it was a very intense game. That team and our team tend to go at it a little more than usual. If one person says anything through the net to us, she’s the first person to respond. She’s always that first person ready to fight for her team. That’s really cool because there’s never a worry that she’s not going to have my back. If anything goes wrong she’s going to be there. She’s very reliable and someone I can depend on. Off the court she is such a silly person. On the court she’s very driven, but off the court there’s a whole other side of Bates. She’s very energetic with her teammates and if anyone needs anything she’d be the first one to offer.”
Sophomore Molly Haggerty on Bates: “Coming in last year and her being an outside and kind of competing for the same position, she was so helpful right from the beginning. I would’ve never expected the person you’re competing with to be so helpful to you, but she’s been so helpful on and off the court. Especially being injured, she’s really stayed engaged with me and I respect that so much. For her to constantly ask me how I am and seeing if I need anything, she has become a great teammate and a great friend. It’s going to be weird not seeing her on the floor next year.”
Haggerty on Gillis: “I played against her when I was at Sports Performances and she was at Munciana. I don’t get intimidated by people too often, but she really intimidated me. I did not think she would be how she is. She is so bubbly and always has a positive attitude. That’s just contagious. It’s hard to go anywhere without her smiling or talking with someone and I think she makes you realize that, yeah, volleyball is our world, but there’s so much more to it and she really embraces both. She has a great sense of humor and we’ve gotten really close over the past year. It’s going to be hard for me to see her leave but I’m really glad that she transferred and I came here.”
Junior Tionna Williams on Gillis, her former Munciana Volleyball Club teammate: “This is my fifth year playing with her and I knew her for about a year before that. She’s just a contagious person to be around. Her personality is super bubbly. She’s so nice and very generous, just an extremely caring person. Every time you’re around her, you’re having a good time. She’s always bringing up the positivity in the room. And her laugh is contagious too.
Being able to play with each other for so long, learning each other’s tendencies and growing as players on the court and as friends off the court. She’s been a big part of my volleyball career and outside of that as well. Being around her for so many years I’ve gotten to watch her confidence level grow tremendously. She was pretty confident in club and then when she went to USC things kind of went downhill a little bit. But when she made the transition here I could see a lot of changes in her on and off the court.”
Williams on Bates: “Bates is the ultimate competitor. A slightly different personality than Gilly. She wants to win and get every point that she can, she wants to make everybody better. They’re two different sides and they balance each other out really well.”
Sophomore M.E. Dodge on Bates: “I’ve grown to become great friends with her. I remember coming to camp when she was a freshman and I was two years younger and I was like, ‘I get to play with her, this is so cool.’ She’s just fun and she makes me a better person on and off the court. She works so hard. Volleyball is her life. This team is her life. She cares so much about everyone. Not everyone gets to see that side of her. But I live with her and to see that side of her is really cool and to make my friendship grow with her is … I don’t have words for it. It’s sad that I won’t get to see her every day. She’s a ‘let’s get it done’ type of person on the court and she’s like that off the court too. She’s playful, she’s funny and she’s really loving and caring.
Dodge on Gillis: “Gilly is so fun. I feel like my personality is really similar to hers. She’s so contagious to be around. She is bubbly and she is such a hard worker. She didn’t get to play the first month of the season but she was in here doing extra stuff all the time. People don’t see the extra work that these seniors put in, but it all pays off and look at them now. They’re amazing. They’re leading this team. Gilly is a very strong person and she makes people around her better.”
Former setter Lauren Carlini, now playing professionally in Italy, on Bates: “Bates brought so much fun and so much passion to the program. She loves this team, she loves everything about the culture. Just the way she plays the game and how she reveals her personality on the court is going to be her legacy, how hard she plays and the energy she brings to the court. She’s always there to fire other people up. She gets fired up and she’ll bring other people along with her. It was fun to play with her because of the way she played the game and the energy she brought every day.”
Carlini on Gillis: “Her personality and everything about her just shine. She always wants to make everybody feel included and be happy. She’s very energetic and you always know what you’re going to get out of her. She’s super bubbly, super friendly and wants to bring everyone along on the ride and make sure everyone is having a good time.
“I really enjoyed playing with both of them and I can’t believe it’s their Senior Night already. I hope it’s a night they remember forever.”