VOLLEYBALL: As A Rookie, Workman Fits Right In
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Most freshman athletes spend their first season tirelessly working to prove themselves and gain recognition from coaches and teammates. Their first season acts as an opportunity to adapt to a college level of play and hone skills for three more years to become an outstanding player.
For freshman volleyball player Katty Workman, this transition took less than half a season. Twice named the Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Week so far this year, Workman currently ranks fifth in the ACC and 50th nationally with an average of 4.00 kills per set.
Despite performing successfully at the collegiate level, the California native admits that high school volleyball and college volleyball are two “wildly different” games.
“The whole level is a lot faster and a lot bigger,” Workman said. “The girls on the other team are huge. You’re used to seeing one or two of those types of players playing against a club or high school team, but not the whole team being at such a high level. So it’s just a step up.”
In order to keep up with the increased competition, Workman learned quickly exactly which aspects of her game needed to be adjusted.
“In terms of hitting, you can’t get away with certain shots or doing certain things that you could in high school because the blocks weren’t so big,” Workman said. “And it took one or two games where I would just get blocked to start changing and realizing you just had to work on it different. You need to just be smarter with the ball because the other team is going to defend it a lot better.”
Workman certainly adjusted her game well, since she was named ACC Freshman of the Week for a second time on Sept. 24. This recognition came after her performances against Georgia Tech and Clemson. During these games, Workman averaged five kills per set, with a total of 30 kills.
Heading into this weekend’s tilts with Virginia and Virginia Tech, Workman led the league with an average of four kills per set.
Workman tries not to pay too much attention to statistics, however.
“Once I start thinking about stats and all the little things, I don’t play as well,” Workman admitted.
Being a consistent player is very important to Workman. While she considers hitting and passing her areas of strength, she is aware that she may have room for improvement in other areas.
“My blocking is an area I need to improve at, and just my overall consistency,” she said. “And I think I could be mentally tougher. If I start getting blocked or I’m not having a great game, I start getting out of it. It’s easy to play really well when you start off really well, but certain days I feel off and I need to be able to listen to the coaches and let them help me get back to the level I want to be at.”
With about half the season behind them, the Eagles currently have a record of 8-9. Reflecting back on the season so far, Workman is optimistic for the rest of the 2012 campaign.
“I think the season started off really well. Hopefully we can maintain it—especially going into more ACC games. But it’s looking really good so far. The team’s really coming together, and we just keep improving,” Workman said.
She also does not think the outcome of recent losses is a fair representation of the team’s capabilities.
“We all kind of agree that we were playing well and had the ability to win. We just let it slip away from us,” Workman said. “It didn’t really feel like we got beaten, just that we let an opportunity go.”
Workman believes that the key to further success lies in the team’s personality.
“Our roster is very athletic and very good, but it’s not going to be the biggest or the highest-jumping,” Workman said. “We focus on developing a personality of being really tenacious and scrappy and just fighting every game and being a courageous team in that sense.”
Although Workman has proven herself to be a valuable asset to the team, she remains conscious of her role as a team player, as well as one of the younger girls on the team.
“I feel like people just look to me and the other outside and they expect to be able to play a certain way and execute certain things,” she said. “I feel like everyone is pretty equal and contributes equally, but I feel like I look to the older players [for influence].”
In particular, senior captain Krystle Higgins and sophomore captain Kellie Barnum have helped Workman both on and off the court. Additionally, Workman admires junior Cagla Sen’s leadership and skill as the setter.
Although Workman has hopes of being a captain sometime in the future, she remains focused on improving her level of play and being a team player.
“I just want to keep feeling like I’m contributing a lot. I just want the team to do well,” Workman said. “Our goal this year for the team is finishing mid-to upper level in the ACC. And I just want to continue to improve by the time I’m a senior.”
As for her recent recognition as the two-time ACC Freshman of the Week, Workman continues to keep the attention from effecting her game.
“It’s more just been a nice thing … it hasn’t really changed that much,” she said. “If anything, it just gives you more confidence. But I don’t think I’ve really thought about it once I start playing.”