Sisters stay close as unlikely starters for WKU volleyball

Senior Kelly Potts and sister, freshman Ashley Potts, are both defensive specialists and starters for the WKU volleyball team.

Emily Patton

When Head Coach Travis Hudson redshirted Kelly Potts as a freshman, neither coach nor athlete had any inclination what that would mean four years later.

Because of an already deep ball control team that Hudson had in place, he decided to redshirt Potts in the fall of 2006.

But in 2010, Hudson learned that the outcome of his decision meant that the senior would be able to play volleyball for the first time ever on the same team with her younger sister, freshman Ashley Potts.

“I would like to say that I was smart enough that when I recruited and then redshirted Kelly that one day that I knew I would be getting Ashley as well,” Hudson said. “But I can’t think that far ahead.”

Hudson had met Kelly Potts as a 13-year-old at a volleyball camp in Louisville and later was introduced to a 9-year-old Ashley Potts.

The sisters, now 22 and 18, have been playing volleyball since early childhood — always playing the same sport, just separately.

With their age gap, the two missed the chance to play together at Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville and thought the same would happen in college until Hudson prolonged Kelly Potts’ stay at WKU another year.

“It is something I thought would never happen,” Kelly Potts said. “But when Travis redshirted me my freshman year, it wasn’t even a thought that, ‘Hey, I could end up playing with Ashley,’ until he started recruiting her. It was like a blessing in disguise.”

Not only does the pair play on the same team at WKU, they both start as defensive specialist players.

Now with such close proximity after the last four years apart, it is a change that Kelly and Ashley Potts said has taken no time to adjust to.

“I don’t even look at it like my sister is on the team,” Ashley Potts said. “She’s my best friend.

“Most people, when they hear about this, they are like, ‘Oh, how’s that working out?’ People on the team always say that they fight with their other friends and teammates more than we do with each other.”

When volleyball ends each day, the sisters eat dinner and spend time hanging out at Kelly Potts’ apartment together.

“With both of us here, a lot of people wanted it to be Big Potts versus Little Potts and tried to force some competition onto us,” Kelly Potts said. “They assume because I’m older that I want to beat her at everything, but I’m happy for her to be that good.”

Although the two view themselves as more of teammates than sisters, Ashley Potts said it’s a fact that sometimes she can’t even deny.

“Last weekend, Kelly had more digs than anyone on our team,” Ashley Potts said. “In the locker room everyone kept saying, ‘Yeah, go Kelly Potts,’ and I just kept saying to myself, ‘Yeah, that’s my sister.’”

The power of their relationship is a weapon Hudson said he will use when the Potts sisters and company take on Virginia Tech at 2 p.m. and Missouri at 7 p.m. on Friday at Diddle Arena on the first day of the WKU Tournament.

WKU will conclude the tournament Saturday against Tennessee Tech at 1 p.m. and Central Arkansas at 7 p.m.

“It’s a really special part of what is going on with our season,” Hudson said. “They are playing together for the first time, and they are so very close.”