Kelly Cantu


Director of Youth Development

Viper Volleyball Since 1999

Fun Fact: Applesauce is my favorite food!


Kelly started her volleyball career with Viper at the young age of 10. She immediately fell in love with the sport and the team camaraderie that accompanied it. Kelly played primarily in the outside hitter position during her club years and was a part of many successful club teams, including Volleyball Festival Champions in her 14’s and 16’s years. Her 16s team also won the Bronze Division in Open at the Salt Lake City, UT Junior Olympics.
In High School, Kelly was a four year varsity volleyball player. After starting her freshman year at Temecula Valley High School, she then spent three years on varsity at Great Oak High School where she was a member of the first graduating class in 2007. While at Great Oak, Kelly was named first-team All-League selection her sophomore through senior seasons and a second-team All-League selection her freshman year at TVHS. During her senior season at Great Oak, the Wolfpack won its first Southwestern League Championship title in its first season competing in the league.

Kelly was recruited by Fresno State where she spent four years as the starting libero. She loved every second of her student-athlete days which included long practices, work-outs, double-days and team building. As a Bulldog she ranks fourth all-time highest in career digs with 1,327 and ranks second in school history with an average of 4.80 digs per set. Kelly was the Western Athletic Conference defensive leader her senior season of 2010 averaging 5.00 digs per set and recording the most digs, 487, out of all players in the conference that season. As a Bulldog, Kelly was a member of three All-Tournament teams and was named Team Captain by her teammates her senior year. She won the program’s prestigious Fighting Spirit Award her senior season and was the one female athlete selected for the Fresno State Athletics Spirit Award in 2010.

In 2011, Kelly graduated with her B.A. in Public Relations and started graduate school immediately after. During her two years of graduate school Kelly worked for Fresno State Athletics in the communications department as a Sports Information Director. She graduated in 2013 with her Masters in Sports Administration from Fresno State.

Kelly has a passion for volleyball and can’t wait to share that passion as a coach developing not only athletes, but successful people as well.

Throughout her college years Kelly coached at multiple college volleyball camps and clinics. While in Fresno, Calif. she assisted an 18’s Elite team at Central Cal Volleyball Club and was a Varsity Assistant at Bullard High School in 2012. Kelly moved back home to Temecula in the summer of 2013 and started coaching at Viper Volleyball. Since 2013, Kelly coached the 14s and 13s Elite teams. Her teams have finished in the top 25 at the Volleyball Festival each season. In 2015 her 13s team finished 10th overall.

I’d have to say my biggest strength as a volleyball coach is teaching technique. I love being able to break down every skill and create a solid foundation to build upon. Any of my past players can tell you we work on basic technique a lot. My philosophy is learn it right the first time, so you can continue to refine your skill throughout your career instead of having to go back season after season breaking bad habits formed with incorrect technique. I believe in giving the kids the tools needed to be successful on the court. If they know their technique, they will have the confidence to rely on it at all times improving their confidence in games and high stress moments.

My husband, Jason (Viper Boys Volleyball Director), and I live in Temecula with our dog Pepper and our new baby girl born in September 2016. I am a native of Temecula, but lived in Fresno, CA for 6 years while going to school. Jason and I met while attending Fresno State where we both played volleyball. We both obviously love volleyball, have coached together for multiple years and even named our dog Pepper after our favorite volleyball drill.

I love exploring, taking adventures, road trips and being outdoors! I feel there is SO much to see in the world, I want to see as much as I can. I’ve been lucky enough to have travelled a lot in my life and hope to continue traveling each year. I’ve been to many of the European countries, including Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece. I’ve been to the continent Africa. I’ve been to Canada and Mexico and really hope to travel to Ireland one day. I believe life is best LIVED and ENJOYING all the world has to offer. I have a passion for life and live each day to its fullest.

What is one of your favorite memories as a player?
“My favorite memory as a player was my junior season (2009) at Fresno State. We had gotten a new college coach before my sophomore year in 2008 and had a year of many ups and downs adjusting to the new coaching staff, her style, her expectations all along while she was getting to know us. We didn’t have any graduating seniors that season, so in 2009, our team was all returning for our second season with our new coaches. That year our team showed true passion, dedication, grit and fight. To go through some of the hardest, most challenging days during the transition a year before, our team was the strongest team and we played as one unit. That season was the definition of camaraderie and that has to be my favorite part of volleyball. To experience life’s greatest lows and to come out the other side victorious, we created a special bond with all those girls as well as our coaching staff and I will never forget that life changing year!”

What is one of your favorite memories as a coach?

“My favorite memory as a coach was the 2014-15 with my 13s team. This was the first season all these girls had been on an elite team and competing at the highest level. Through out the season there was a lot of growth and development, but the best culminating experience was when my girls finished 10th at the Volleyball Festival, finishing ahead of many other Division 1 teams. This group had fight and played as a team.”