Carly Mason and Peyton Kelley go way back.
Making their way to Belmont from Illini Elite Volleyball Club in Bloomington, Illinois, where they were teammates, the players continue to support each other on the court as co-captains of the 2021-22 volleyball squad.
“Obviously any time you have players that have a previous history and relationship, it helps. Both of them took the opportunity here at Belmont to find other friend groups and also to build meaningful relationships with other people on the team,” volleyball head coach Katelyn Harrison said.
Each contributing to the team in their own way, Mason scored her 1,000th career assist as a sophomore while Kelley has recorded 121 digs this season.
“Carly is certainly versatile. Midway through our season, we started using her as an attacker as well as a setter. Peyton is currently leading the team in aces and has consistently been one of our best passers. Both have done a great job this season,” Harrison said.
But there’s always more to a player than her numbers on the court.
“Carly is like the team mom and Peyton is the firecracker,” Harrison said.
No 10. setter and co-captain Carly Mason with her game face on in the Curb Event Center. Belmont Vision / Jessica Mattsson.
From Forsyth, Illinois, Mason determined what role she wanted to play early on.
“I fell in love with my setting position at a really young age, before we even had positions. It wasn’t the prettiest position, but I always got to touch the ball,” she said.
“My dad was a quarterback, so of course I wanted to be the quarterback for the volleyball team.
With sports running in the family, Mason shares her love for volleyball with her two sisters, one of whom played for Middle Tennessee State University.
Kelley’s road to volleyball looked a little different, but she brings 11 years of development into a defensive specialist to the team in her libero position.
“I played basketball up until my sophomore year, but there was no time to even come up for air, so I ultimately chose volleyball,” she said.
The sport sparked her NCAA Division I journey from Normal, Illinois, to Nashville, Tennessee, and her career as a Bruin leaves her without disappointments.
“My experience at Belmont has definitely lived up to my expectations. I’ve met some of the greatest friends and teachers here, all while growing in my faith,” she said.
Off the court, these student-athletes are growing in Belmont’s classrooms.
As a marketing major, Mason took a social media marketing class last semester where she started a blog called “Team Authentic.” She interviewed athletes and discussed the struggles in their collegiate and professional journeys.
For both volleyball players, being a student-athlete requires discipline and sacrifice, even when things get difficult.
“I am also impressed at how they have handled losing playing time at various times to younger players, and how they continued to stay focused, work hard and to help teach the younger players. This type of leadership will have a huge impact on the culture of our team for years,” said Harrison.
PHOTO: No. 13 Peyton Kelley celebrating a point for the Bruins. Belmont Vision / Jessica Mattsson.
This article was written by Camden Morris. Contributory writing by Jessica Mattsson.