Scott City's Hogan is Southeast Missourian volleyball player of the year

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Scott City senior Katie Hogan provided the best volleyball players in Southeast Missouri with a mostly welcomed challenge.

"I like competition a lot," Bell City senior Jasmine Johnson said.

Hogan, the Southeast Missourian player of the year for the second consecutive season, was someone star players like Johnson said they looked forward to playing.

"She's just a great player all around," said Johnson, who started on her school's varsity team for four seasons like Hogan. "She's not like most other players because she has talent."

That talent and the all-around skills she's developed over years of practice sometimes is taken for granted by those who focus on her 6-foot-1 frame.

"She's a good hitter and she's a good passer, server and all that," Johnson said. "Whenever she plays, I know she's going to have other tactics. She's going to pick on our weakest players."

She also picked on a few of the strongest players.

When Perryville visited Scott City on senior night, the Pirates' Natalie Gremaud found herself facing a different Hogan than she had met earlier in the season.

"The first time, I think, I was actually matched up with her only maybe one time during the rotation," Gremaud said. "Then the next time I felt like I was up against her all three times I was in the front row. I feel like the fact that she told her team that, ‘I'm focusing on Natalie. I know she's going to be the one they're going to,' that just is different in itself."

Hogan said after a win that night she had told her teammates she would be "closing in" on Gremaud.

"I'm just going to commit to her fully," Hogan said at the time. "So I just waited out there and they went to her every time."

Gremaud, who earned her 313 kills this season from all over the court, admitted Hogan's play made her change her tactics during Scott City's 25-18, 25-15 win.

"In the middle of it, I told the setter, I said, ‘Set me two times during a rally,'" Gremaud said. "‘Then if we're still struggling and need that last point, set it to the middle or set it to somewhere I'm not playing so it'll throw her off and we'll try to get that matchup of a one-on-one instead of two big blockers on me.'"

Hogan finished with 350 kills and hit .431 during the Rams' 30-1-1 season, which ended with a loss to St. Pius in a Class 2 sectional.

Hitting percentage in volleyball is calculated by subtracting errors from a player's total number of kills and dividing it by total attacks.

Last season's Division I women's volleyball leader hit .430 for the season, and any percentage over .300 is considered good.

Hogan played all six rotations and had 98 blocks and 46 aces to go with 188 digs on defense.

"It's definitely more than that," Gremaud said about Hogan's size. "People look at me, I know, and I'm short compared to some people, and they're like, ‘Oh, she's not that good.' It's just kind of more motivation. Like I said, she's tall and she's really smart, so you have to try to adjust to it as best as possible."

While Hogan toyed with the idea of playing both basketball and volleyball in college, she recently verbally committed to Miami Dade College, one of the country's top junior college volleyball programs. She will join former club volleyball teammate Marti Poole on the Sharks' team.

"It's a really big junior college and I don't think they've ever not been to the national tournament," Hogan said. "Whenever she sent the coach her tape, they seen me on there and were interested in me."

Miami Dade has made 41 appearances in the national tournament and failed to advance that far just once, according to the school's website. It has won seven national championships.

"I know with Division I, I didn't get looked at very well because I go to a small school," Hogan said. "So I figured that if I go to a junior college, work on my game a little bit and critique the little stuff that's wrong then I can go to a much bigger school."

Hogan will not make a visit to Miami until her high school basketball season is complete, but Poole's presence was enough to make her commit.

"There's a lot of places to hang out with your friends, and I know that instead of dorms, there's apartments, so it's not like the hotel feeling," Hogan said. "Me and [Poole] bonded best on our club team, and knowing that she'll be down there for my first year made me feel a lot of comfort."

Hogan plans to sign her official letter of intent after her visit.

"I just told [Miami Dade coach Kiko Benoit] I want to make sure that I have a scholarship waiting," Hogan said. "I don't want to wait until after basketball because I'm waiting so long and then end up not having a scholarship.

"He just said, ‘We're just waiting for basketball to get over with and I have a scholarship with your name on it. We're just waiting for whenever you're ready.'"

With her future set, Hogan is taking a break from volleyball for the first time in years.

"This is the first year that I haven't done club volleyball, so I've kind of gotten a break and I'm playing just basketball," Hogan said.

"Ever since seventh grade, I've been doing basketball and club at the same time and I've never had a break. This year during volleyball season I've gotten a lot of injuries, and I was like, ‘I really need a break' just to spend time with my friends before I go away to college and to live my senior year."

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