Wall stands tall for North Carroll Volleyball: Hurt by losses to graduation and injury, Kate Wall has lifted her game to new heights and North Carroll has benefited, winning six of its first seven matches.

October 04, 1998|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When graduation and preseason injuries hit the North Carroll volleyball squad so hard that most associated with the team could only shake their heads, Kate Wall decided to do more.

Even though many on the team already looked up to Wall, so much so that teammates took the unusual step of voting her captain as a junior last year, she knew the injuries reinforced how much the Panthers needed her to be a leader this year.

"I knew that I had to step up," said Wall. "It's my last year, [and] I don't really see it as pressure. I'm going out there to play my best."

Wall has done just that. Coming off a season that made many believe she was one of the county's Wall best players, Wall got off to an even better start this year, which has helped North Carroll surprise some by winning six of its first seven matches.

North Carroll lost senior hitters Pam Beverly and Sarah Clark to preseason injuries. A knee injury sidelined Beverly for the season, and Clark suffered a severe ankle sprain. She hasn't played yet, but coach Lloyd Ford said there's a chance Clark could return for the region playoffs.

But for now, Wall leads the way. The senior sets the tone for the Panthers, both on and off the court.

"She just kind of leads the way," said Ford. "I told her this team will follow your lead."

Wall knows and understands that. The senior willingly accepts the pressure that comes with the role and also realizes this allows her and classmate Charis Fulton, the lone seniors on this squad, little room for error or rest. And that's fine with her.

"I know I'm going to be playing all the time," said Wall. "I'm going to be in every game. You can't give up, even if you're tired. You've got to give it your best because it's all for the same thing. You want to win."

Wall has been a big reason that the Panthers have done just that. Through the first seven matches, Wall registered 90 kills. In addition, her service percentage is 71 percent with 53 points.

Fulton understands exactly what Wall means to this team.

"I think a lot of her leadership," said Fulton. "She's really outgoing and very aggressive on and off the court. She's just very intense."

Some of that intensity showed through in North Carroll's recent come-from-behind victory over Westminster. The Panthers were routed in the first game, won the second game and trailed, 13-4 in the next contest.

But as North Carroll slowly began to rally, Wall came up with what may have been the biggest play of the game and eventually the match with a forceful kill that zipped right past the Westminster bench and landed just inside the lane.

That only made the score 13-9 but seemed to wake up the Panthers. It certainly sent a buzz through the gym that night at North Carroll. The fans awoke, the cheering quickly became louder and, even though the Panthers lost that game, they grabbed the next two for the victory.

"When somebody gets a good hit like that, it's the best feeling," said Wall. "It's just pumping you up. Then you're there to play and to smash it again."

Ford said he hopes Wall keeps on smashing it the rest of the season. But he's a little worried that she will do too much -- he doesn't want this team to just be carried by only a few players.

To that end, Ford hopes that while Wall keeps having another all-star season, some of the younger players continue to grow and mature. That way, if Clark can come back by season's end, the Panthers should be even stronger in the playoffs. But even if Clark doesn't return, Ford likes having Wall and Fulton as leaders.

"They set the tone for every practice and every game," said Ford. "They work hard."

Pub Date: 10/04/98

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