SIU Edwardsville volleyballer having standout season
A barn played an early role in Katie Shashack's volleyball development.
Shashack told the Metro East Sun that her earliest memories of volleyball probably included matches in the yard at her grandfather's house.
In particular, she remembered using a barn to practice serving against others. They would try to see how many times they could hit the target on the structure.
“That was when I first found out that I liked winning better than losing,” Shashack said.
Shashack has experienced more winning than losing since then, whether as a star player on her successful high school and club teams or as a key part of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville's excellent season this year.
Shashack, a junior in her second season as the starting libero for the Cougars, has been near the top of the Ohio Valley Conference in digs per set.
Shashack called volleyball the ultimate team sport.
“It takes hard work and commitment from every player to be successful, especially at this level, and I love the daily challenges we get to face and go through together,” she said. “We push each other to our best day in and day out, and have found a lot of success this year, which has made it even more enjoyable.”
This season's production could be seen as a logical extension of her previous accomplishments.
Shashack was a two-time All-Southwestern Conference first-teamer and picked for the SportsTownChicago.com Illinois All-Star match in her playing days at Edwardsville High School, according to siuecougars.com. When she graduated from EHS, she ranked in the program's top six all-time in digs, service points and serve-receive percentage. Shashack's club-volleyball career was spent at CYC Team Momentum and Team Elite St. Louis, with CYC Team Momentum qualifying for nationals in her time there.
Even with that resume, however, Shashack still found the jump to NCAA Division I volleyball challenging. She said it was hard to prepare for the overall package of class load, being away from home and playing volleyball at a high level.
“Volleyball-wise, everybody in the gym is so talented, which makes for such a competitive atmosphere that is exciting to be a part of,” she said.
Shashack appeared in 28 matches in her freshman season in 2014, finishing fourth on the team, with 1.42 digs per set. In 2015, she became the starting libero and led the team with 365 digs for a 3.44 per-set average, as well as being second in aces with 27.
Shashack said that in her time with the Cougars, she has become stronger not only physically, but also mentally by scouting and watching film.
“Also, I have learned through example of those before me how to be a leader and communicate effectively, which are skills that I will carry with me for the rest of my life,” said Shashack, who is pursuing a management degree with an eye on owning her own business. “I believe my game has taken a big step up this season in my third year here, but we just try to get better every day, and that's my goal.”