Katelyn Steffan isnâ€™t a big fan of being the center of attention, but Friday night before the CSU volleyball teamâ€™s match against the University of Wyoming, all eyes will be on her.
Fridayâ€™s game against the Cowgirls is the final home game of the season, also known as Senior Night. The seniors are acknowledged prior to the game, usually with flowers and a standing ovation from the crowd.
â€œItâ€™s something you know is always going to be there at the end of your career, the fact that itâ€™s already here is that bittersweet ending,â€ Steffan said.
The entire senior class of the team is always honored, but this year Steffan is the only senior on the team due to redshirts and transfers.
â€œItâ€™s weird. I donâ€™t like being that person that everyoneâ€™s talking about,â€ Steffan said.
This season, however, Steffan has been the talk of the Mountain West, leading the conference in kills and ranks in the top five in hitting percentage.
â€œSheâ€™s never played the position before, and sheâ€™s that good because of how smart sheâ€™s playing,â€ CSU coach Tom Hilbert said. â€œShe doesnâ€™t have a real powerful arm, but she makes good decisions most out of herself.â€
In addition to her stellar on the court play, Steffan emerged this season as a team leader and off the court asset as well.
â€œSheâ€™s been a player that has grown from a quiet, inexperienced, raw player to a leader,â€ Hilbert said. â€œOne of the things I like about players like her is that she came from a really small school in North Dakota, didnâ€™t play club volleyball, which is big, so sheâ€™s had to learn a lot about this game.
People like that tend to have methods of teaching themselves and they can share that with other people.â€
Steffan went to Dickinson High School in Dickinson, N.D., and led her team to state championships in 2005 and 2006. She started playing volleyball in 7th grade and has been involved in sports ever since.
â€œThatâ€™s something that Iâ€™m struggling with, that Iâ€™m graduating and done with volleyball all in one week,â€ she said. â€œItâ€™s kind of something Iâ€™ve always done, and not just volleyball, but sports in general. Iâ€™ve only ever known to be a student athlete.â€
This season is Steffanâ€™s fifth year with the program, as she redshirted during her freshman year, but has been a consistent contributor since.
â€œThey all have to leave at some point, but with Kate itâ€™s especially difficult because sheâ€™s really coming into her own as a volleyball player and I wish I had her for a couple more years because itâ€™s amazing how good she can get,â€ Hilbert said.
In the first match against Wyoming, Steffan showed how good she is, tallying 28 kills and 11 digs, but the Rams fell in five sets for their only conference loss of the year.
â€œBorder War is always a big game, Iâ€™ll be ready going into that game and everyoneâ€™s going to play hard,â€ Steffan said. â€œItâ€™s going to be a good ending in Moby.â€
Volleyball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.