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A home away from home
Published 9/6/2012 6:00:00 AM
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David Hawbaker / The Daily EvergreenWSU freshman defensive specialist Kate Sommer dives to save the ball Aug. 24 during the Idaho Nike Invitational at the University of Idaho. The Cougars beat Montana 3-0.

The youngest of six children, freshman libero Kate Sommer grew up around sports, especially volleyball. With two older sisters who would go on to play collegiate volleyball, Kate eventually followed suit and found her way to WSU as a volleyball player.

“Sports was always a big thing for my family,” Kate said. “I always grew up watching (volleyball), so it has always been my dream to compete at a really high level, whether it be in the Pac-12 or just Division One in general.”

Kate’s journey to the Pac-12 began in fourth grade when she joined a club team, choosing volleyball over basketball. The decision was two-fold, partially to follow the path her sisters had created and partially because she saw more of a future in volleyball than she did in basketball.

“I’m not the biggest person,” Kate said, standing only 5 feet 4 inches tall.

The path to college is different for every athlete. For Kate it began with contact from WSU, a school she had never heard of before.

“My club director called me and said, ‘Washington State is really interested in you, give them a call',” Kate said. “It was awkward, I was thinking, ‘How do they know me? What do I say?’ So I sat down and called Burdette (Greeny), and we share the same faith. That’s part of the reason why I wanted to come here.”

WSU’s distance from her home in Pacific Palisades, Calif., was a challenge in her decision to come to Pullman. Being the first child to move, she said deciding was difficult, especially considering another university in California had offered her a scholarship.

A visit to Pullman is what ultimately sold Kate on becoming a Cougar.

“I loved the small town, I loved the coaches and I just wanted to be a part of this program and see it grow and get to be part of that,” Kate said. “Also, when we visited, my dad knew this is where I was supposed to be. He didn’t tell me that at the time, but he felt it when we were watching games.”

Two weeks after the visit, Kate made her decision to come to WSU and has felt great about the decision ever since.

“I’m not homesick,” Kate joked. “I probably will be after the season, but I really do love it. I’m busy, and I do what I love every day and I’m getting better, which is important.”

As a freshman, Kate won the starting libero position for the Cougars, starting in all 20 sets so far this season and recording a team leading 80 digs.

Coming from a high school of 60 students, this is her first time playing in front of a large crowd, something she has enjoyed in her time at WSU.

“The crowds (in high school) weren’t nearly as big or nearly as loud as this,” Kate said. “But it’s what I live for. I live for that competition, so to back away from that would just be a disappointment for what I’ve strived for my whole life. It doesn’t scare me. If anything, it encourages me more.”

Kate and the rest of the Cougar volleyball team heads to Reno, Nev., to compete in the Wolf Pack Invitational starting Sept. 7.

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