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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Two Kates, Two Greats

They are both junior outside hitters. And yes, they both share the first name Kate. But perhaps the most important thing that Kate McWhorter and Kate White share in common is an intense desire to take the Lady Beacon volleyball program to new heights – as a team.

While each player is accumulating gaudy statistics, it has been done in the name of success. As each McWhorter and White have gotten warmer, the Lady Beacons have gotten hotter, and it has the team buzzing about an NCAA tournament appearance if the volleyball team can win the Little East Conference.

“We hope to win not only the LEC tournament but also to go on to the NCAA tournament,” White said. McWhorter echoed that sentiment. “We are also looking to go to the NCAA tournament, plain and simple,” stated the California native.

Each member of the team is on board with that sort of statement, as winning is the number one priority. There’s no rift between these stars. Feuding about who gets top billing isn’t what Coach Terry Condon has taught her players. Instead, each Kate motivates the other.

“I think with Kate around it only drives us to be better players,” White said of McWhorter. “Personally, when I see her hit I want to match her hit for hit.”

White has seen McWhorter hit plenty this season. McWhorter has been downright unstoppable at times, as evidenced by her team-high 5 kills per game. Her 45 kills lead the squad, which is remarkable, considering she’s only played in nine of the Lady Beacons’ first 14 games due to a hamstring injury.

However, now she seems to be getting an explosive leap back as she heals, and she says she is back at 100 percent. White, for one, seems to appreciate seeing what McWhorter can do with a clean bill of health.

“Kate brings a lot of experience to the team,” White said of McWhorter. “She is not only a great player, but she is really smart about the game.”

While McWhorter’s injury sidelined the Cal State-Bakersfield transfer, White stepped up in the role of offensive leader, as she led the team in kills in McWhorter’s absence. The junior is having a great all-around season, as she is the only member of the team averaging over three kills and two digs per contest.

Once McWhorter returned, however, White had no plans of slowing down, as evidenced by her performance in the Days Inn of Campton Tournament. In a first-round win over eventual champion Emerson College, White contributed eight kills, 14 digs, an ace and a block.

McWhorter seems to be White’s biggest fan and credits White with her own improvement. “Kate White’s presence has elevated my game,” McWhorter said. “She is an amazing player and playing with her makes me want to play as strong and focused as she does.”

While each is a fantastic athlete with great court sense, playing together effectively requires more than just natural talent. McWhorter and White have really worked on developing a strong sense of vocal communication on the court. In separate interviews, their strikingly similar comments about the importance of understanding one another shows how dialed in these stars really are.

“She is a great communicator on the court,” White said of McWhorter. “[Communication] elevates our game and helps us play smarter.” Added McWhorter, “If we communicate, good things will happen.”

The Kates aren’t alone in helping the Lady Beacons win five of their previous seven matches, however. Freshman setter Cassy Hanneman has been outstanding while Nina Sullivan has also been counted on for consistent contributions. Both players came up huge during the Campton Tournament, as Hanneman was named to the All-Tournament team thanks to a strong 8.64 per game assist rate. Sullivan, a sophomore, shone bright when the spotlight burned hot, as she led the team with a career-high 19 kills and a scorching .545 hitting mark in the tournament championship game.

But as solid as the other contributors have been, the Lady Beacon volleyball team will only go as far as McWhorter and White can take them. Condon knows that the girls will thus feel pressure, but knows her stars are tough enough to shoulder the responsibility.

“Those two are the ones that we go to in the crunch,” Condon said. “We always rely on them to get us through.”

If the Kates have anything to say about it, they’ll be relied on to carry the team – all the way through the NCAA tournament.