Volleyball star Kendall Murray will be a Wolverine, just like late father Vada

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Kendall Murray

Ann Arbor – Kendall Murray has played a huge role in helping Ann Arbor Skyline become a state power in volleyball. She will now try and pass along some of those lessons learned to her younger sister before heading on to play college volleyball at Michigan.

Murray can’t wait to put on a No. 27 jersey with the Wolverines since her father, Vada Murray, sported that same number while playing defensive back in the late 1980s for Bo Schembechler, helping them to consecutive victories over Ohio State in 1988 and 1989 and a Rose Bowl win over USC on New Year’s Day, 1989.

Kendall was in third grade when her father passed away in 2011 from lung cancer. Murray was a longtime Ann Arbor police officer after his playing days were over at Michigan.

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“My dad played at Michigan, and I committed my freshman year,” Kendall said. “It took me a little bit because he passed away and I didn’t know if I wanted to go. I got so much pressure from everyone I saw, it was like, ‘When are you going to Michigan? Are you going to Michigan?’ I was so overwhelmed as a freshman, it was too much. I realized that’s where I wanted to be. I wanted Michigan on my back.

 “My dad wore 27 and I’m going to take that number once I get to Michigan. I wanted something meaningful, that would kind of help me through my time at Michigan, and I think it’s a number that has a story and that story will help me guide my path at Michigan.”

Kendall is familiar with her dad’s legacy at Michigan.

“I knew he was a big leader and that everyone adored him,” Kendall said. “I knew that he was always helping other people and was there for anyone, so I’m hoping that when I go there I can leave that same legacy of anytime my name is brought up it’s something good and it’s something positive and it’s something where I’m helping other people. He’s obviously a good role model to have because he’s so loved.”

Last season, Skyline was 33-10 and advanced to the Division 1 regional finals, losing to Northville. Murray moved from the middle to an outside hitter spot, putting together a strong season with 712 kills, 357 digs and a .327 hitting percentage.

“Our goal is to get to state quarterfinals, then reach Battle Creek for the state semifinals and finals, but it’s going to take a lot of grit,” Murray said. “I’ve kind of switched around (positions) since I was 13. I was middle, outside, middle one time at the beginning of the season, six-row outside by the end, so I’ve never really had a set position until this past season and I’m really comfortable here, kind of found my home.”

Kendall, a Miss Volleyball finalist, think both she and her sister, 6-1 freshman outside hitter Harper Murray, will benefit from being teammates.

“It’s really fun, but it’s also hard since we are sisters, so the dynamic is a little bit more intense,” Kendall said. “But I think it’s good for her and it’s good for me because she wants to beat me and I want to beat her so the competition is higher for all of us.

“Even in the past, I’ve always helped her with her volleyball and with her school. She’s always there, watching my practices, and I’ve been hard on her. She’s very good, so it’s paid off.”