Meet the McGhees: From siblings to volleyball stars

Junior middle blocker Kara McGhee (left) and freshmen outside hitter Elise McGhee (right) are sisters and members of Baylor's volleyball team. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer

The Baylor volleyball team is a close bunch. Many of the players have strong connections with each other outside of the sport. However, junior middle blocker Kara McGhee and freshman outside hitter Elise McGhee take it one step further, being literal sisters on and off the court. Kara said it is a blessing to have the opportunity to be here alongside her sister.

“Playing with Elise is one of the most special things,” Kara said. “I feel beyond blessed to be able to go to battle with her everyday in practice and celebrate all of her success. She is such a light on our team and I love being able to grow more and more. I’m proud of her as I see the work she puts in everyday to get better.”

Elise expressed her gratitude when it came to being able to play with her best friend and sister.

“It’s such a unique experience playing with a sister in general,” Elise said. “It makes it that much better considering how close Kara and I are. She’s my best friend and my biggest supporter, and to have her constantly by my side is the greatest blessing I could ever ask for.”

The pair are competitive with each other and carry on a loving sibling rivalry. Kara has had a good season and stepped up in big moments, such as in their win against the University of Texas. Elise said her favorite moment of their career together was the moment they shared after that match.

“My favorite moment is how excited we both get for each other’s success,” Elise said. “Against Texas, Kara had an amazing kill and she came off and I just about tackled her as I was trying to give her a hug.”

The McGhee sisters grew up in San Antonio, where they both picked up volleyball at the age of 12. The duo played on the same team a lot growing up, including two years on their high school’s varsity team. Elise said she was once more into basketball, and only began playing volleyball because of her older sister.

“I started playing volleyball when I was 12, and at the time I was really into basketball and I only switched to volleyball because Kara was playing it and of course being her younger sister, I had to copy her,” Elise said. “I clearly ended up loving it, so I have Kara to thank for that. We push each other because we are both extremely competitive. It helps that we know each other so well when trying to bring that competitiveness out of each other. Kara definitely makes me better because of how good she is and I strive to reach the level she is at.”

Elise said high school was a vital time for her volleyball career and Kara helped her grow immensely. Kara credited their time playing together in high school as the reason they became close.

“High school volleyball is such a fun and special time,” Kara said. “Being able to experience it with your sister makes it so much more memorable. Being able to play [in] high school together is a big reason we are as close as we are now.”

Elise said her big sister playing for Baylor was a huge factor for her deciding to come here as well. She said she loves the Waco community and the Baylor environment, as well as the team.

“I loved Baylor automatically,” Elise said. “I loved Waco and everything about it. Then I was like, ‘I’ll get to be with my sister too.’ Being able to play with her was definitely a factor in that for sure.”

Kara said it was a surprise to her when Elise committed to Baylor, as Elise would joke with her about not attending Baylor simply because Kara was on the team. Kara said it was shocking when Elise went into her room one day and broke the news without explanation.

“[Elise] said she didn’t want to come to Baylor because I was here,” Kara said. “Randomly she came to my room one day and said ‘I’m actually going to commit to Baylor.’ I hope I was able to influence her decision somehow, but she really didn’t tell me.”

Playing together for so many years and being related has made for a lot of chemistry for the two on and off the court. Kara said they are almost always on the same page with things. The two have a natural bond over volleyball and love playing together. As they enter their first college postseason with one another, the pair will count on each other going forward.