GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO
Kelly Urbanik’s exceptional setting ability is something she has worked on since she was a seventh-grader in Napa Valley, Calif.
It may have started as a necessity, but it has unquestionably grown into a strength.
When Kelly Urbanik was growing up in Napa Valley, Calif., she began playing volleyball when she was in seventh grade. At the time, she was always the smallest player on the court, so learning how to set the ball for other players to attack became her role. Even though Urbanik, 29, of Peconic had a growth spurt in high school, setting is still her forte.
“I played every sport possible growing up,” Urbanik said. “I played basketball and tennis. I ran track. But when I began playing volleyball at Robert Lewis Stevenson Middle School, volleyball was always the most fun.”
Urbanik played volleyball through high school and also at the University of California-Davis. “In practice, I was always setting,” she said. “It is what I did. I had lots of practice setting as a kid. It was a lot of hard work … a lot of repetition. It was tough to work on my all-around game. I never played beach volleyball until I came out here.”
Urbanik is now in her fifth season playing beach volleyball at the Breakwater Beach courts in Mattituck. A winemaker for Macari Vineyards, she plays for fourth-place Mattituck Plumbing (18-14) in the North Fork Beach Volleyball League and for first-place Woodside Orchards (26-2) in the North Side-Out Beach Volleyball League.
Urbanik plays with Ryan Wilsberg, J. P. Polistena, Bob Gammon and Matt Wynkoop on both teams. Wilsberg said she brought her “West Coast game to the East Coast.”
“Kelly has one of the best attitudes on the court,” Wilsberg said. “She knows the game better than almost anyone I have ever played with.”
Mike Ryan, director of the North Fork Beach Volleyball League, said Urbanik has “good all-around skills. She passes and serves well. She is quick on her feet.”
Urbanik said that while playing outside with the wind and sun “makes it harder to move in the sand, it is easier to dive for the ball.”
Looking back on her volleyball career, Urbanik talked about winning championships in the North Side-Out Beach Volleyball League with Woodside Orchards and AT Conference. But her most cherished memory, she said, was meeting her boyfriend of almost four years, Rob Koch, while playing in the league. “That has been a pretty big highlight,” she said.