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Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

2010 Standard Democrat Volleyball Player of the Year: Towering above the rest

Sunday, November 14, 2010

(Photo)
Katie Hogan
One of the easiest things to do is spot Katie Hogan.

Scott City Middle School's 7th hour P.E. class had no trouble noticing the junior was present. Surrounding her, they continually asked Hogan questions that can only asked to a 6-2 girl that towers above them.

"How tall are you?"

"Can you touch the net by just standing under the basket?"

Hogan obliged by doing just what they had asked and clung onto the bottom rings of the basketball net with ease.

There's a lot of things Hogan can do with the frame she was given.

Her sheer size and physical attributes are the tools that give her the chance to compete at the level she does and has done for the Lady Rams volleyball team since she was a freshman. But it's her understanding of the floor and her willingness to do what's necessary to lead her team that gives Hogan a true advantage.

Which is why Katie Hogan is our Standard Democrat Volleyball Player of the Year.

"Even with her height, she knows she still has to work hard and go above and beyond to get that extra step," Scott City volleyball coach Haley Jennings said. "And, she does."

Stepping Up

As a sophomore, Hogan experienced what most high school athletes dream of -- a state championship.

The 2009 Scott City volleyball team won the Class 2 state championship with a group of four seniors leading the way.

Watching those four seniors, Brooke Simpson, Stephanie Essner, Jordan McFall and Katie Diebold, Hogan learned a lot in the ways of leading a team. Something that her and fellow junior Micah Simpson would have to eventually do.

"Me and Micah, we had to step up and show some kind of leadership," said Hogan. "We had to step up and show our team that they could put trust in us."

Hogan did that with her play on the court and verbally. Something that she said came from a mentor-type in Brooke Simpson.

"Brooke showed me leadership," said Hogan. "I had her in the club season, which helped out a lot too. She gave me tips and pointers throughout the season like what would I do in a situation between the girls and everything."

Hogan's leadership was never more evident than in the SEMO Spike tournament.

She led her squad to a three-set win over rival Notre Dame to win the tournament title for the first time in Scott City's history.

Hogan finished with 22 kills, 27 digs and three kill blocks -- one of which was a game winner. She scored six of the final eight points to strip Notre Dame as the defending champions.

"She's really became a leader and she became our go-to hitter," Jennings said. "She's just really matured as a player. That's what we needed when we lost our four seniors. She really stepped up and helped fill some of those shoes."

Intimidation Factor

Warmups can be good for two things.

Number one, getting ready for the match. Number two, seeing what the other team has to offer. Hogan was often looked upon as to what Scott City had to offer.

"You can see it on the other girl's faces," said Jennings.

Hogan continually dominated the net for the Lady Rams. Using her out-stretched arms that reach upwards of nine feet, Hogan acted as a moving wall. Thwarting shots away or stuffing them back from whence they came.

"She can stand there and basically put her hands above the net, that always helps," said Jennings about Hogan's court presence. "She's very intimidating on front row for the other team. That helps us with our defense because they won't try to hit as hard or try to tip over her."

Most wasn't lucky enough to hit through or tip over Hogan as she finished the season with 86 solo blocks.

If her size wasn't intimidating enough, Hogan matches her frame with a fierce tenacity. She wants every ball to float her way so she can thunderously slam it down like she did for 370 kills. "I just use my aggressiveness to try and get a kill every single time," Hogan said.

Even her serve is threatening. While most stand flat-footed and lob it over, Hogan's serve is one of the jumping variety. She flips it straight up creating a top-spin and times her jump perfectly sending a laser across the net. She's extremely accurate with her method and it resulted in 37 aces.

On top of her duties guarding and scoring at the net, Hogan is also a strong defensive player who accumulated 425 digs this season.

"Her aggressiveness has gotten stronger and stronger each year, said Jennings. "Her freshman year she was kind of timid and then last year she picked it up and this year, even more so."

Ups And Downs

Although Hogan's play never seemed to slow, as a team, the Lady Rams were unexpectedly halted.

Going in as the state's third ranked team in Class 2, Scott City was primed for their seventh straight district title and another state championship run. That was the plan atleast.

St. Vincent pulled off a massive upset defeating the Lady Rams in three sets in the District 2 championship match.

"Coming off state last year, I think we thought we should obviously make it back to state," admitted Hogan about the loss.

Although the ultimate goal vanished, Scott City still had a successful season.

Culminating a 24-5-1 record, the Lady Rams were regarded as one of the most feared teams in the area. With Hogan leading the way, Scott City dominated most opponents they faced and exacted a bit of revenge in the SEMO Spike tournament.

"We had our ups and downs but, winning the SEMO tournament and beating Notre Dame was probably one of the highlights for sure," Jennings said. "No matter what we would have done post-season, beating Notre Dame and winning that tournament for the first time in school history, we were proud of that."

One More Year

For Hogan, one good thing about failing to reach a state championship situation is that she, and most of her teammates, have another year for redemption.

Scott City will be another senior-led group next fall with Hogan, again, leading the charge. The 2009 squad faced a similar challenge, losing the previous year. But it gave them all extra motivation to claim a title.

"We'll use that as a stepping stone," Hogan said about their early exit. "We know what we have to work on and know that during district time, we have to push."

The Scott City faithful will be watching again next year as she attempts to lead the Lady Rams back to Kansas City.

Scott City's middle schoolers will be watching too. Even if it is just to see a towering Hogan touch a net.