She’s Killing It

Volleyball co-captain McKenna Keowen breaks the Suffolk record for kills
McKenna Keowen spikes the volleyball over the net while other players and coaches look on
This fall, volleyball player McKenna Keowen (center) broke the Suffolk record for kills, successfully spiking 727 points against opposing teams. Head Coach Scott Blanchard calls the San Ramon, California native “one of the best attackers I’ve ever coached at Suffolk.”

When McKenna Keowen, Class of 2025, first began playing volleyball in fifth grade, she was one of the shortest players on her team.

While holding her own on the back line, she would imagine one day playing alongside the taller girls up front, driving the ball over the net with power and precision.

“I dreamed of what it would be like to be a hitter,” she says.

Keowen’s not dreaming anymore. On September 30, the five-foot-eight junior broke the Suffolk women’s volleyball all-time record for kills (when a player spikes a ball and scores a point), notching number 727 during an away contest against Western Connecticut State University.

While she suspected she had broken the record, Keowen didn’t know for sure until Head Coach Scott Blanchard announced it on the ride back to Boston. Cheers erupted on the team bus, followed by congratulatory texts and Instagram messages from family and friends.

In addition, Keowen received praise and a warm handshake from Suffolk President Marisa Kelly prior to the start of the Rams’ next game, a 3-0 home victory versus Curry College.

Besting her coach’s record

“Breaking the record proved something to myself that I never thought would happen,” says Keowen, a political science major from San Ramon, California. “Looking back at how small I was when I started playing, becoming a hitter at the college level like I am now is hard to believe.”

Assistant Coach Hannah Fabiano congratulates McKenna Keowen for breaking her records for kills
“If anyone had to break my record, I’m happy it was McKenna,” says Assistant Coach Hannah Fabiano, BS ’21 (left), the previous record holder. “She is very coachable, driven, humble, and always there for her teammates.”

She credits her Suffolk teammates with sharpening her play over the years, including her best friend and roommate Jayla Martinez, Class of 2025, who assisted her on many of her kills. “The timing and the way she sets me up are perfect,” Keowen says.

Keowen’s outstanding achievement also hit close to home—the record she broke was held by Rams’ former star and current Assistant Coach Hannah Fabiano, BS ’21.

Fabiano, who accumulated 726 kills in only three seasons (Suffolk canceled fall sports in 2020 due to COVID-19), was thrilled to be a part of Keowen’s impressive feat.

“If anyone had to break my record, I’m happy it was McKenna,” says Fabiano. “I told her how proud I was of all the hard work she put in to get to where she is today. She is very coachable, driven, humble, and always there for her teammates.”

Keowen—who is one of the team captains, along with seniors Jasmine James and Emily Wheeler—called it “an honor” to break her coach’s record. “Hannah is someone I have always looked up to,” she says.

A team player—and a talented baker

Blanchard recognized that Keowen was a “special player” when he recruited her, and she proved him right by leading the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) with 342 kills in her freshman season.

“McKenna is one of the best attackers I’ve ever coached at Suffolk,” says Blanchard, who is in his sixth year at the helm, and assisted by Fabiano and Talia Lombardo, BFA ’19, another former Rams’ volleyball standout. “She’s a great passer, plays good defense, and is a vocal leader and a true team player.”

McKenna Keowen drops to her knees to hit a low shot on the volleyball court
As a junior, Keowen could break still more records. “McKenna is a very hard player to shut down,” says Coach Blanchard. “She can get 1,000 kills if she stays on her current path.”

Not to mention a talented baker. During the season, Keowen has been known to whip up batches of cookies and muffins for Blanchard, whom she describes as “super funny, someone you can talk with about anything.”

On a wall inside the Larry and Michael Smith Court hangs a banner called the Suffolk Volleyball One Thousand Club, listing athletes who’ve topped a thousand digs and assists. No Rams player has ever accumulated 1,000 kills. As a junior, Keowen could become the first to do so.

“McKenna is a very hard player to shut down,” says Blanchard. “She can get 1,000 kills if she stays on her current path.”

Right now, Keowen, who has 803 kills to date, is locked in on improving her team’s record (currently 15-11 overall, 4-2 in the CCC) as the post-season approaches.

“We have a lot of team chemistry, and when we all focus, we perform very well,” she says. “I think if we set our minds to it, we could go all the way to the championship.”


Tony Ferullo
Office of Public Affairs

Greg Gatlin
Office of Public Affairs