Riley Goff has come a long way from being the 9-year-old who had her dad hit her volleyballs for an hour while attending her older sister’s Empire volleyball club practices and the 12-year-old who was good enough to play with 16-year-olds.
Goff, now 17, is described by Kelseyville coach Donelle McCallister in one sentence: “When you look at MVPs, it’s the whole package.”
The stats and facts speak for themselves. There aren’t many athletes like Goff on the volleyball court in the Redwood Empire. Unless you’ve heard of another Empire volleyball player who filled this past season’s stat sheet accordingly: assists (568), digs (388), kills (134) and aces (84), in addition to a victory in the North Coast Section playoffs versus an All-Empire large school.
There wasn’t much debate as to why Goff, a junior at Kelseyville, is the 2015-16 All-Empire small schools volleyball player of the year.
“ Riley best combines intelligence, talent, dedication, commitment, and humility to any sport she plays,” McCallister said via email.
A three-sport athlete — she finds time between high school and club volleyball to play basketball and softball — Goff has focused on volleyball .
The coach remembers when Goff was the kid who showed up to her sister’s practices.
“This little fourth-grade girl would show up in the gym,” McCallister noted. “Kaitlyn (Riley’s older sister) would be swinging at the ball and this kid would attempt to dig it up. . . . She showed up during some club practices and I had her work with my daughters who were also learning how to set.”
McCallister remembers when Goff’s presence made the difference between winning and losing the NCL I title during her freshman year.
During the tiebreaker set in a game against Clear Lake, Goff helped lead the charge when Kelseyville was down 2-0 in a must-win game.
“I think we were down two games. We all worked together and came back (to tie it 2-2). I served and got an ace, and we tied it,” Goff said.
The Knights won the league title by one game over St. Helena that year.
Although Kelseyville didn’t repeat as NCL I champions during her sophomore campaign, Goff’s spotlight and reputation only took another step up on a bigger stage.
The Knights faced Lick-Wilmerding, a private school in San Francisco. On a stage where not many expected the Lake County volleyball team to contend, Kelseyville won a five-set nailbiter with a two-point victory in the tiebreaker.
This year’s team faced a new setup for Goff — a one-setter system. During her previous two seasons, Goff teamed with McCallister ’s daughter Mary in a two-setter system. Goff said the adjustment made their team a little bit weaker in the backrow, but the team kept practicing all summer to make it work.
But could Goff handle the pressure without another setter on the court with her?
An undefeated 14-0 campaign enroute to the 2015 NCL I title shows the change definitely didn’t hurt, and with the team returning all but one athlete from this year’s roster, this fall couldn’t come any sooner for Goff.