By Daniel Hill
Baylor volleyball’s current class of freshmen was rated as the No. 16 recruiting class in the nation by to Prepvolleyball.com.
With the infusion of freshman talent, the team needs veteran leadership to guide it through the grueling season.
Senior setter Kate Harris is the backbone of the team, and the team relies on Harris for her leadership and inspiration.
“She’s the heart and soul of this team,” Baylor head coach Jim Barnes said. “Hard work is her middle name. She’s always the first to practice and the last to leave.”
Her teammates were quick to give Harris credit for stepping up and taking a leadership role with the team this season.
“I would say Kate Harris has really come into her own this year,” sophomore defensive specialist Hope Ogden said. “She has really stepped up as a setter, and you really want to work hard for her because she gives her all on every practice and every drill.”
It’s clear that the entire squad of Baylor Bears look to Harris for motivation.
“Someone that I definitely look up to is Kate Harris,” junior defensive specialist Kayci Evans said. “I can honestly say weight room, court, wherever we are, she is the hardest worker. She is always talking and has a smile on her face. She is definitely someone I look up to, and I know other girls look up to her too.”
Not only do the players respect and look up to Harris, but Barnes also has high praise for his squad’s leader after Baylor went undefeated and took first place in the Fairfield Inn North Baylor Classic on Saturday.
Harris recorded a pair of double-doubles in the tournament.
The 3-1 victory over Nevada was the setting for her first double-double of the season, with 38 assists and 13 digs.
Right after that game, Harris had 55 assists and 11 digs.
In both match-ups combined she recorded five kills.
“She’s probably one of the most competitive players I’ve ever coached and the most inspirational player I’ve ever coached,” Barnes said. “She was playing on one leg tonight. Her shin splint almost sidelined her. I think a regular player wouldn’t have played. I think that shows you just how tough this kid is. Kate Harris is a one-of-a-kind leader.”
Harris is the unquestioned leader of the volleyball team, but she is quick to point out that she plays volleyball for a higher cause.
“I just play for God’s glory,” Harris said. “I play for the Lord everyday. It is really his strength and power that I play from.”
One thing that makes this volleyball team so special is its sense of community and genuine friendship.
“Yeah, the chemistry is awesome,” Harris said. “God’s hand is just in this team. It just keeps us unified in him.”
This past summer several members of the volleyball team had the chance to travel to Kenya with Baylor Sports Ministry.
The trip lasted from May 10 to May 27.
“It was awesome,” Harris said. “It was an awesome team bonding time too because there were 12 of us that went. It was very cool to experience a bunch of different cultures and to see the girls and how God worked in their lives.”
What did Harris take away from the Kenya mission trip?
“The joy that the people had over there amidst their circumstances and that Jesus is enough,” Harris said.
This weekend the Baylor volleyball team will be in Hawaii for the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic, where it will face a stiff San Francisco, along with two ranked teams in No. 25 California and No. 6 Hawaii.
The team leaves today on an eight-hour flight to Hawaii.
Baylor will get Thursday morning off before the Bears have practice at 2 p.m.
Harris is looking forward to the competition and the tropical location.
“I’m so pumped,” Harris said. “I know we get to go snorkeling, which will be really cool. To experience that with, you know, these are my best friends. So I get to take a vacation with my best friends, while obviously focusing on volleyball too.”
While the season is only just beggining, Harris has set a confident goal to end her time at Baylor with.
“I just want to dominate,” Harris said.