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Kim Hill Has Spikes

Meet the breakout star of the U.S. women’s volleyball team

Getty Images/Ringer illustration
Getty Images/Ringer illustration

[Pulls up chair, stands on chair, cues up “Dipset Anthem” for background music, switches on megaphone] U.S. women’s Olympic volleyball player Kim Hill is extremely dope, and I’ve gathered you here today to explain why.

Among the medal favorites going into Rio, the U.S. beat Puerto Rico in straight sets on Saturday. But the Americans were nearly felled by an underdog Netherlands team on Monday. The Dutch had upset gold-medal challenger China in a five-set war of attrition just two days prior, and they nearly did the same to the U.S., aided by a gang of service faults from their American opponents. Six of those faults came from Hill, but don’t be fooled, she’s the breakout star of this Olympic team.

After winning only one of the first three sets, Team USA rallied to win the final two — 25–20 and 15–8, respectively. This was thanks in no small part to a stellar performance from outside hitter Kimberly Hill — or just Kim Hill, if you’re a real one — who was bludgeoning the ball like she hated it.

I drifted somewhere in the second set, attempting to figure out exactly what Hill, who plies her trade professionally in Turkey, where she was named the 2015–16 league MVP, is to volleyball. And, given the unavoidable parallels to be drawn between volleyball and basketball — mainly that you must be this tall and be able to jump this high to enter — I leaned toward Chris “Birdman” Andersen.

Hill, a Portland, Oregon, native and Pepperdine alum, had 14 points on 14 spikes against the Netherlands, which recalled that weird streak of perfect shooting that Andersen went on with the Heat back in 2013 because he was dunking everything and not actually “shooting” at all. Hill’s blocking ability allows her to shut the opposing hitter’s window to about 10 inches of space, reminiscent of Birdman’s proclivity for forcing opposing big men to eat their own dunk attempts. We’re getting somewhere, right?

Not quite, because Hill needed 36 attempts to get those 14 points. Which is very Dion Waiters of her, but she’s not Dion Waiters. So I kept on: Was she the Bad Guy Nets’ Kenyon Martin baptizing Jermaine O’Neal? Maybe. 2013 Knicks Glue Guy Kenyon Martin ruining Kevin Garnett’s night? Hm. Anthony Davis, back when he was at his most pterodactyl-y/pre-labrum problems? Ehhh. Nothing felt totally on the square.

I snapped back near the middle of that second set — watching Kim Hill try to punch a ball into the Earth’s core will do that — and the U.S. went on a seven-point run. One rally rotated back around twice to Hill, who put Debby Stam-Pilon on the receiving end of two heavy-handed spikes, both of which sounded like shotgun blasts on the broadcast, and the latter of which left the Dutch wing spiker splayed out on the hardwood, exhausted and defeated.

At this exact moment, it occurred to me that I wasn’t thinking hyperbolic or fantastic enough.

Kim Hill inspires hyperbole. At a towering 6-foot-4, she, incredibly, had to be persuaded to even try out for the national team. Forget basketball, she is like the Olympic version of an Ent. Like, the humanoid trees/protectors of the forest from The Lord of the Rings. I know how that sounds: You’re comparing her to an Ent because she’s tall. Well, yes, but these tree dudes were also literally a force of nature and they totally outside spiked on Saruman and his Uruk-hai hordes in The Two Towers. They were impossibly wise and also “more powerful than trolls,” which loosely translates to really fucking powerful.

Sure, it’s a ridiculous and outlandish comparison. Here’s another one: When Kim Hill spikes a ball, it looks like she’s attempting to send the opposing team back into the past by activating the Doc Brown flux-capacitor rules of time travel. She just inspires ridiculous and outlandish comparisons.

We done here?

Yeah, we’re done here.