Set it up

Mike Ashcraft

Volleyball ready for postseason run thanks to freshman Veatch

Before she came to Kent State, freshman setter Katie Veatch won back-to-back state titles with Roger Bacon High School in Cincinnati. She also led her team to an undefeated season her senior year and was named Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Woma

Credit: Steve Schirra

Katie Veatch simply doesn’t know any better.

She doesn’t realize a freshman isn’t supposed to do what she is doing. And for Kent State’s volleyball team, that is a good thing.

Maybe it’s because Veatch knows how to do two things well: win and lead.

A 5-foot-8 setter from Roger Bacon High School in Cincinnati, Veatch has stepped into a role that carries an enormous load of pressure and responsibility. Filling the position vacated by graduate Anne Butts, Veatch has helped guide a rejuvenated program to a 12-8 start (5-3 Mid-American Conference) and an opportunity to capture a MAC Championship, which would be a first for Kent State volleyball.

A setter must possess the quickness, both mentally and physically, of a point guard in basketball, as well as be a vocal and steady leader. The success of a play lives and dies with how well a setter puts her attackers in a position to score. Veatch’s calm attitude about her job has come as a pleasant surprise to Kent State coach Mora Kanim.

“I would say it is the rare freshman that can come in and look as composed and be as composed and be as vocal, even, as Katie is,” Kanim said. “She’s used to winning; she’s used to running the show. I’m not sure that she came in and realized that she’s a freshman, and that’s a really good thing. The team has responded to her. A team is going to listen to a setter that knows what they’re doing and is also good at what they’re doing.”

Kanim described Veatch as an accomplished player and a huge asset to the team before the season ever began.

“I was very flattered to get that compliment, and I just hope that I can live up to that,” Veatch said.

Of course, Veatch did not have to do a lot to prove to her teammates that she could play on the big stage. Her track record, which includes back-to-back state titles with the Spartans as a junior and senior, speaks for itself. With Veatch at the controls, Roger Bacon High School went undefeated last year. The amazing season, which Veatch understated as being “a good ending,” gave the team another title and herself the honor of being the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Woman Athlete of the Year.

Veatch idolized her mother, Sally, growing up. Her mom was a setter on the Morehead State volleyball team.

“She’s been my coach my entire life,” Veatch said. “She coached me in club through high school.”

Off the court she carries a look of determination and has been leaving a positive impression on older teammates, none more so than team’s only senior, Sarah Wilber.

“She’s brought a ton, especially coming in as a freshman setter,” said Wilber, who has been on the receiving end of many of Veatch’s 823 assists this season. “She has really stepped into her role and has really strived to make herself the best that she can be. We couldn’t function without her on the court with us right now.”

Veatch was quick to hand out praise to her teammates and claims that a sister-like bond has helped the team bounce back from consecutive losing campaigns.

“There’s no segregation in between the grade levels,” she said. “The upperclassmen were very welcoming to all the freshmen. Everyone has a single goal in mind.”

That single goal Veatch is referring to is raising a championship banner in the M.A.C. Center, something she says would overshadow anything she could accomplish as an individual.

“We want to win for everyone, not just for ourselves, so to start that tradition now as a freshman would be amazing,” Veatch said.

The Flashes, who have won 10 of their last 13 matches, host the third contest of a four-match home stand against MAC opponents, facing off with Northern Illinois 7 p.m. Friday.

Contact sports reporter Mike Ashcraft at [email protected]