Katzy Randall was definitively one of the most anticipated recruits of the 2011 class. Before all is said and done, she figures to get her shot at being the star of the show. When healthy, Randall has the skill set to play all the way around and when elevating the way she was early on in 2011 can be a truly dangerous outside hitter. Her ball control skills keep her integrated into floor time even when nagging injuries keep her from being as aggressive as she'd like on the front row.
A truly great scenario for the 'Jacks would be for Randall to just completely take over one of the outside hitter positions and run with it all season long. That way, current freshman Tori Bates and Keeley Kainer could carry a lighter load. Bates and Kainer each turned it up a notch as the UTA Tourney wore on, but Randall has the experience and the talent to allow Humphreys to ease the freshmen along. Having all three of them healthy makes us deeper on the outside and increases the chance that our offense will be more balanced alongside the efforts of Burns and Allen in the middle coupled with Ivy's strength on the right.
Janet Hill has gone from a role of part DS and part backup setter to fully concentrating on defense in 2012. I think this shift was inevitable given you don't see many 5'5" NCAA DI setters. But, the fact that Janet has setters' hands only adds to the dimension she current plays on the back row. I think the role she had this past weekend suits her just fine and is the type of contribution all should expect going forward. One thing I failed to mention in stat wraps for the chats during the UTA Tourney is that Hill twice upped her career high in digs. She had 9 scoops against UTPA and then 10 in the championship against host UTA. Her 2011 high was 8. Expect more double digit dig performances out of Hill during the year as she looks to solidify court time on defense.
As always, many thanks to both Janet and Katzy for returning questions via Facebook and taking the time after an intense and long practice to sit down and chat.
SFAVB: Katzy, describe your off-season routine in terms of workouts, exercise & rehab. Did you do anything different to prepare for workouts beginning this year as opposed to just before beginning your first year?
KR: I didn't have much of an off season due to having surgery in January. I started doing rehab everyday and was fully released by late May. That is when I then slowly but surely started my off season. I had about two solid months to get back to where I needed to be for this season.
SFAVB: What is the #1 piece of advice that you would give the incoming freshman as they begin to prepare for their first college volleyball season?
KR: I tell incoming freshman to just relax and play the game that you got recruited to come and do. It seems so much harder than it really is but if you just relax and play like you know how too, than you will be fine.
SFAVB: Janet, What was the #1 thing that you saw as different in trying to defend/dig college attackers as opposed to those you saw in high school?
JH: One of the main differences in college from high school hitters is their size. The girls in college are the best of the best, and are much bigger than most girls I played against in high school and club. Another main difference is the hitters in college have a higher volleyball IQ; meaning they understand the game better and handle the mental and tactical side of the game better.
SFAVB: You mention experiences coming out of high school and club ball... I I know – that like others on the team – that you had opportunities to go to other schools to play volleyball and go to school. What was it about SFA Volleyball or SFA in general that convinced you that being here was the right thing for you?
JH: SFA was the first college campus I ever stepped foot on when I came to a camp early in my high school career. All the other schools I went to just couldn't compare to the atmosphere here at SFA. Everything from the coaches and girls to the gym are just so inviting and comforting. It was a pleasant surprise to start going to class and be so enthused by the professors and classes. I started out as a Math major but then added Computer Science as a second major. It’s a perfect fit for me!
SFAVB: Katzy, you may very well be in line for a six rotation spot this season… what do you feel you need to improve the most on: front row or back row responsibilities?
KR: I need to definitely improve on my front row game because of my injuries. Because of the injuries, I have put my main focus on defense and it has become pretty solid.
SFAVB: Hitting from the left side.. you’re known for having a diverse repertoire of shots. Is there one particular shot that you feel is your very best weapon?
KR: I do have a nice bag of tricks I can pull out come game time but my better shot would definitely have to be my cross-body line shot. I think I have put my focus on that shot for a long time, being such a short outside but it is hard for the defense to read you when you look like your going cross but really your hitting line.
SFAVB: Janet, when playing defense, do you feel particularly more comfortable in any particular back row spot?
JH: As a DS, left back is probably where I feel most comfortable because everything is funneled to that position so you're always expecting the ball and don't have to anticipate as much as you do in right or middle back.
SFAVB: Janet, you brought up your studies and majors a minute ago... tell the truth: Does a lot of studying get done on the bus or in hotels on the road? Or, is most of the time just spent relaxing getting to know your teammates?
JH: Well...being the size I am, I'm able to get A LOT of sleep on the bus because I can actually lay down unlike many of the girls. Also, I tend to get queasy if I read in a moving vehicle…So not a lot of homework gets done of the bus for me. On the bus and in the hotel rooms many memories are made with my teammates, as well as a lot of down time to keep our bodies well rested.
SFAVB: Katzy, was there one or two particular upperclassmen/veterans last year that played the role of mentor to you during your first year?
KR: Definitely Maddie [Hanlan] helped me out a ton, especially in the back row and being a freshman. She just had something about her that would calm me down and I knew I was capable of the job at hand. Les [Jackson] also helped out being a great leader and only being a sophomore.
SFAVB: Finally, Janet - like many of the volleyball parents, both of your parents are very active in supporting you and the club as a whole. Describe the support and role that they have played for you as you’ve made the transition to college athletics.
JH: My parents have always been supportive of me and all my decisions. Once I went off to college nothing but love and support still came from them. They still come to all of my games and that's such an amazing feeling to look up in the stands and see them cheering me on and knowing that they still will put the time and energy into driving many miles to see me. I think they are just as excited as I am to start this season!
Take a listen to more conversation with Katzy and Janet in the audio file below:
Check back later in the week for two additional posts: First, on Thursday, we will take a look at each team in the conference and what they lost in 2011 and what they are looking to replace in 2012. Second, over the weekend at the UTA Tournament, I got a chance to talk with UTPA Head Coach and former SFA Assistant Brian Yale. Our interview will be available here on Saturday. Veteran previews continues with seniors Sabrina Burns and Maddie Hanlan. Also look for the first installment of SLC5 next week after the second weekend of tournaments has finished up. Finally, the link to Allison Gideon's Trek-X blog will go up soon as well as the first draft of the SLC Lineup Grid. Check the right sidebar for those two features.
Lots coming your way - as always - at SFA Volleyball's Strongest Presence on the Net... sfavolleyblog.net
[Credit: Thanks to Connie Ziober for providing some of the photos seen in the above file.]