Volleyball: Versatile hitter Van Hise leading Rochelle attack

Rochelle senior Katie Van Hise brings the combination of versatility, energy and power to the Lady Hub varsity volleyball team. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Lady Hub senior bringing team-first mentality to varsity squad

As long as she can make plays for her team, Rochelle senior Katie Van Hise doesn’t care where she’s positioned on the volleyball court.

Van Hise enters her third varsity season with the Lady Hubs having logged minutes at outside hitter, middle blocker and right side. The versatile senior earned the team’s starting outside hitter spot this fall, but despite her recent success at the position (192 kills in 2018), Van Hise wants to play for her teammates and help Rochelle win matches, regardless of her position.

“I’ve definitely improved on the outside since I used to play in the middle,” Van Hise said. “I’m more versatile now. I don’t really have a favorite position. I only want to be on the court. Hitting will definitely be one of our biggest strengths since we have a really strong front row. We get along so well. Our seniors have played with each other since fifth grade and a lot of us have known each other since preschool. We play for each other, not just to win.”

Van Hise and the Lady Hubs started the 2019 season strong with a two-set victory against Ashton-Franklin Center on Tuesday, when Van Hise totaled a team-high eight kills. After helping Rochelle win 16 matches and reach the IHSA Regional Finals in 2018, Van Hise and her senior teammates are pushing for an even longer run this season.

“We’d like another winning season and we’d like to make sectionals,” Van Hise said. “Playing varsity volleyball my sophomore year really introduced me to a higher level of play that I wasn’t seeing on the sophomore team. Everything moves much faster and it forced me to become quicker with everything I do.”

The 2019 season marks eight years of volleyball for Van Hise, who was signed up for the sport by her mother when she was at St. Paul Lutheran School. Her first volleyball coach was Kristen Edecker, and along with her VC United coach Courtney Slinko, Van Hise was quick to credit the two with helping her improve most as a player.

“My mom made me go into volleyball and I wound up loving the sport,” Van Hise said. “She still holds that over my head sometimes. I love how it’s a team-oriented sport and I love that every point is celebrated… Coach Edecker was the first coach I had and she taught me how to love the sport. Coach Slinko was an amazing player and she introduced me to a higher level of play.”

Van Hise stays busy off the court, serving as president of the RTHS Interact Club, a student organization partnered with the Rotary Club that promotes volunteer work within the Rochelle community. She said she wants to continue her volleyball career at the collegiate level while studying physical therapy somewhere in the Midwest.

“Interact is a very fun group to be a part of and it’s nice to help out the community,” Van Hise said. “I want to go to college and I’ve been talking with some coaches about playing volleyball in college. My brother is wheelchair-bound with cerebral palsy and I want to find a way to help him more as he gets older.”

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