One of Kate Lange’s least favorite things to do is talk about her personal accolades. But when you’re as good as she has been for Bulldog volleyball, that’s nearly impossible to avoid. The senior outside hitter passed the 1,000-kill mark for her career last season and ended 2012 with a total of 1,423. Lange has twice notched 500 kills in a season, so it’s possible she could eclipse Vicky Braegelmann’s all-time school mark of 1,843 this season.
“Certainly expectations will be high for her,” head coach Jim Boos said. “She’s a two-time first-team All-American. The big thing for her to understand is (that) teams know who she is and are going to try and game-plan to try and make things a little bit more difficult on her. She expects a ton out of herself. She’s as hard on herself as anyone on the coaching staff.”
All of those superlatives have combined to position Lange as the NSIC Preseason Player of the Year, an honor she plans to use as motivation in her last season as a Bulldog.
“With the whole Preseason Player of the Year thing, I really haven’t done too much to earn that,” Lange said. “But it just motivates me to work as hard to make sure to prove to myself and others that I did deserve that a little bit.”
Lange, who Boos called one of the hardest working players he’s worked with, serves as a great example and role model for her teammates. As the captain and leader of the Bulldogs, Lange’s team-first mentality, despite her individual success, shows exactly the type of player she is.
“In terms of a player, she’s one of the more dynamic we’ve ever had in this program—certainly in the 12 years I’ve been here and possibly in the program’s history,” Boos said. “She’s also an incredible competitor, hard worker, a leader by example. She’s not going to ask anyone to do anything she’s not willing to do herself.”
After going 29-5 last season and advancing to the regional tournament, Lange and her teammates have their sights set on making a deeper run this year.
“Every year we look at going back to the conference tournament, winning that straight-out, going out to the regional tournament, and actually doing well there,” Lange said. “Even hopefully making it out to the national tournament this year and, if we’re lucky enough, win a National Championship.”
If the Bulldogs are to make it to the national tournament stage, it will likely be on the back of their senior captain. With the opportunity to become UMD’s all-time kill leader with 420 more kills, there has been speculation by her coaches that the 2,000-kill mark is not out of the question.
“Looking at the list of the other girls who have (reached 1,000 kills) in their careers here, they’re some great players,” Lange said. “And just to be ranked among them does really feel great. But 2,000 kills might be a bit of a reach. I’d be pretty proud of my shoulder for holding in there that long, but it would be pretty cool. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.”
BY NICOLE BRODZIK firstname.lastname@example.org