WOONSOCKET — The past 24 hours have been bittersweet for Kelsey Lace.
On Tuesday night, Lace suffered the worst loss of her outstanding high school career when her then-unbeaten Mount St. Charles Academy squad was ousted in four games in the Division I semifinals by Ponaganset High.
It was a very bitter ending to a brilliant four-year run with the Mounties -- one that included a Division II state championship her sophomore year and what will soon be a repeat appearance on the All-State team.
But on Wednesday afternoon, the Burrillville native was able to push the sting of the loss behind her and break a smile that lit up the room when she signed a letter of intent to continue her volleyball career at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y.
Lace, who also had Bryant University and the University of Rhode Island on her short wish list of schools to attend, went for an official visit to Saint Rose a couple of weeks ago and immediately knew where she wanted to spend the next four years of her life.
“I met the girls on the team and I got a tour of the campus, and I just instantly fell in love,” said Lace, who last Thursday, took in Saint Rose’s Northeast-10 game with Assumption in Worcester. “I just knew this was the place for me.”
A 6-foot-1 outside hitter who is known for her powerful spikes and excellent blocking at the net, Lace hopes to fit right in to a Golden Knights squad that reached the postseason this fall, but will be losing five seniors to graduation and returning just four players next year who hover in the 6-foot range.
“Hopefully, I’ll be playing outside hitter,” offered Lace. “I know they have a couple of seniors graduating this year, so hopefully, I’ll be able to fill a spot.”
Lace, who also plays for the R.I. Blast travel team during the winter, recently put the finishing touches on a spectacular senior season that saw her reach the 160-kill and 25-block marks for the second straight year.
Those are incredible numbers for a player who, when she enrolled at MSC as a freshman, was believed that she was going to bring her athletic talents to the soccer pitch, not the volleyball court.
Lace played youth soccer for nine years and was a standout on her junior high team, but as an eighth grader, she decided to go out for her school’s volleyball team because it was a spring sport.
“I kind of fell in love with volleyball,” offered Lace. “I’d been playing soccer for so long that it was really much fun for me anymore, but (volleyball) was a new experience for me and I liked it.”
Lace played in a few games for MSC’s varsity team as a freshman, and then her career took off like a rocket her sophomore season when she stepped into the starting lineup and helped the Mounties post an 18-1 record that led to the Division II title.
The Mounties were then promoted to Division I the following year, and they went 14-0 in each season to claim the Division I-North regular-season crown, only to see their postseason runs abruptly cut short in the semifinal round.
But despite Tuesday’s dismal end to her team’s promising season, Lace was able to sit back and recollect the fond memories from her high school career.
“I had a lot of good memories with all the girls,” offered Lace. “My coaches, (head coach) Josh (D’Abate) and (assistant coach) Paul (Gould) have really helped me a lot. In my four years, they pretty much made me the player I am today.”