May 072010
 
Authors: Joel Hafnor

There are no statistics in volleyball for effort. Nor for heart, relentlessness or leadership.

In fact, much of what made Katelin Batten one of the greatest volleyball players in CSU history cannot be measured as a quantifiable statistic. To the untrained eye, she was little more than a player wearing a different jersey than her teammates.

But ask any of Batten’s teammates over her four-year career, and you’ll find that she was anything but ordinary.

Her journey began in Council Bluffs, Iowa where she was born to parents Patrick and Karen. At age 12, Batten and her family moved to Parker, for a job opportunity for her father, who played college football at Northern Iowa.

 “It was a really hard to move actually, I did not want to come out here,” Batten said. “Now, I would never go back.”

Batten played club volleyball throughout middle school and opted to attend volleyball power Grandview High School despite it being more than a half-hour drive to school every morning. That dedication to the game led Batten and Grandview to winning back-to-back state championships in her junior and senior seasons.

She wanted to build on her prep success and become the third sibling in her family to participate in collegiate athletics. During her senior year, Batten chose to commit to the University of Northern Colorado, after the Bears offered her a preferred walk-on spot.

“CSU had always been my dream school, but I didn’t think I was good enough to play here,” she said.

Two extraordinary events led to the realization of Batten’s dream.

First, UNC head coach Ron Alexander stepped down to pursue a career as a firefighter. Soon after, CSU’s libero at the time quit the team, opening up a scholarship that the Grandview graduate would ultimately occupy.

“I definitely knew where God wanted me to be, because those things don’t just happen,” Batten said.

“It’s a huge blessing, that’s all I can say about my career at CSU.”

Batten would take full advantage of her opportunity, starting all 122 games of her four-year career, 89 of which were victories. Ultimately, Batten ends her career as the school’s all-time leader in digs with 1,783, good for third-most in Mountain West Conference history.

Rams volleyball coach Hilbert remains grateful that things turned out the way they did and understands the challenge ahead in replacing Batten.

“She gotten better every year, especially in her last two years,” Hilbert said. “You take that for granted sometimes, and now you can tell the difference without her in practice.”

Hilbert said that he was most impressed with how profoundly Batten impacted the game, scaring hitters away with her ability to accurately receive the ball. Like a shutdown cornerback in football, Hilbert noticed that opposing players would often avoid the 5-foot-5 libero.

“One particular instance I remember was against Utah,when Batty was just robbing this kid over and over,” Hilbert said. “You could see the frustration on (the opponent’s) face.”

More than anything, Batten said she hopes people remember her for being a great leader and role model.

“I would hope that people would say I led the right way, that I was selfless,” Batten said. “To me, a great libero is someone who is ruthless and consistent. Your teammates can always depend on you.”

No moment was more enduring for Batten than her final game at Moby, when the Rams shocked the volleyball world by knocking off Pac-10 juggernaut Washington, in route to the school’s first Sweet 16 berth since 2003.

“I remember looking around right when that final ball dropped and the whole crowd just jumped up,” Batten said. “I’ve never heard Moby so loud.”

Though her decorated collegiate career has come to an end, Batten said she hopes to stay involved in some capacity with CSU volleyball. Currently, Batten is coaching a 16-and-up team with Terry Pettit, who led Nebraska to the 1995 National Championship.

_Volleyball Beat Reporter Joel Hafnor can be reached at sports@collegian.com.
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