Every volleyball season brings in dynamic new members to the team. These first-year players typically play important roles off the bench, but none in recent memory have been as pivotal to the lineup as libero Katie Foster.
Foster came into the program as an outside hitter, but was moved to the back row exclusively within the first few days of the preseason. Foster said the transition to defensive specialist was not unfamiliar to her.
“In high school, playing back row, I played left back,” Foster said. “So it wasn’t a huge transition from hitting to libero, just because I had played all the way around. So the back row with that just kind of came.”
After the transition, Foster was put up against senior Bre Bader for the open libero spot, eventually winning the job. Bader has been something of a mentor to Foster since the position change, and she said the two of them have gotten close on and off the court.
“Katie is basically like a little sister to me,” Bader said. “It’s been really great to have her as a teammate and friend. I know that I can always count on her; we’re always in here early together every day getting better, and I can always count on her to do just about anything. And I know she would come to me for anything too.”
In terms of libero play, Bader compared Foster to 2016 graduate Jamie Farley, who is statistically one of the top liberoes in Wartburg’s history. In her freshman season, Foster ended up surpassing some of Farley’s top season numbers. Her 622 digs this year are good for seventh on the all-time single-season list, two spots above Farley’s best season total of 573.
These numbers were also good enough to earn Foster the Freshman of the Year award in the Iowa Conference, which also puts her on the first-team all-IIAC. Foster said the honors were unexpected, and she found out at a rather interesting time.
“I was actually in my psychology class taking my exam,” Foster said. “Coach called me and told me, ‘you made first-team all-conference and Freshman of the Year.’ It was super exciting, but I was also outside my psych exam room so I was trying not to be super excited because they could probably hear me.”
With the honors, Foster joins a slew of other Knights to be named to one of the all-conference teams, including the coaching staff. There have been at least a few all-conference honorees every year, but Foster is the first player in Wartburg’s history to win earn the Freshman of the Year award. Bader said the honors were well-deserved.
“If she didn’t get it, I was going to be really upset. She’s earned it, worked for it, and she’s a standout freshman in this conference,” Bader said. “She’s done everything right.”
The 2017 volleyball season came to an end on Friday, but Foster’s career has just begun. Foster recognizes that her sophomore season will bring new responsibilities on and off the court, and she looks forward to it.
“Next year is going to be a whole new role. For Kylie [Bildstein] and I, it’s just going to be different stepping up only being sophomores,” Foster said. “I think it’ll be super exciting. I’m excited for next season and what that has to bring.”