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THE SILENT PREDATOR: Kinsman is an unlikely victimizer but she’ll take you down if you’re not careful.
Aaron Whitfield/The Gauntlet

Kinsman’s here and she got game

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Craziness. That's what you get for sitting with the always-grinning Krista Kinsman. She's in the middle of a story about ending up in a boxing match under the alias "Krazy Kitty Kyta" and just then you realize you're talking to one of the finest athletes you'll ever meet. Craziness.

Seeing Kinsman dominate a volleyball game is just the first clue, she was blessed with talents most people can only dream of. She was an avid ski racer as a kid. She earned a scholarship and played basketball and volleyball at Oregon State University. But maybe most importantly, she can kick your ass. A jab, a straight and you're down-ask anyone in Winnipeg.

Sometimes you don't notice, her grin disarms you. It's one goofy story after another and just when you think you've stopped laughing you start laughing again. Then you see her on the volleyball court and you remember she plays for Team Canada. You remember she's not always silly. You remember the power, the grace and the skill.

She's different out there, she's calm when all around her is chaos. She's used to it. Four years ago she's the passer-the rock, the anchor. She's steady when her teammates fly to amazing heights and plunge to amazing lows. Playing basketball, she lets herself go. She comes off the bench; doesn't have to calm anyone down. Now she's jawin' at you, throwing her elbows after a big board. She's pure energy, runnin' the floor while you're runnin' scared.

She comes back to Canada, forgets about basketball. She focuses on volleyball and makes the national team. She plays hard. Numbers say she's the best attacker in the conference and numbers say the Canada West is the toughest conference in the country. Numbers don't lie.

She hits from the right, the left and the back. Sometimes there's two blockers, sometimes there's three. Sometimes it hardly matters who's on the other side of the net.

December 2001: two matches and 41 kills against the University of Manitoba Bisons. That's the defending National Champions. That's Kathy "once Hrehirchuck now" Preston. That's Jenn Dowdall, Tammy Mahon and Jaclyn Schmidt. And you ain't seen nothing yet. She's still working on aggressiveness, still working on her serve.

She'll make another run at the title this year-wouldn't be right without her. She'll bring her friends along; they got game too. Maybe they'll soar and plunge around her and she'll be the rock again. Or maybe, just maybe, she'll show 'em something new.

Four games till the playoffs, it's almost over now. A quick jab, a quick straight and you're out. Don't miss the show while it's still here.

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