Imagine missing your senior prom. Imagine missing your best friend’s wedding. Now imagine missing the NCAA Tournament.
That’s what happened to redshirt junior setter Katie Gallagher last year after the Hurricanes clinched their first postseason tournament berth in seven years.
“It was definitely tough, one of my dreams was to play in the NCAA Tournament but unfortunately it wasn’t able to happen,” the 5-foot-11-inch setter said. “It was really tough not to be playing. But I was always there for my teammates cheering them on.”
Gallagher suffered two concussions last year playing in just eight matches before being sidelined the final two months of the season. She was awarded a medical redshirt, so she has two more years of eligibility.
Sophomore Nrithya Sundararaman was the setter last year in Gallagher’s place.
“I think Nrithya did very well,” Gallagher said. “I know how much pressure there can be to be a setter your freshman year. I was a setter starting my freshman year but she did an awesome job. She did her part.”
The injury may have been a blessing in disguise because Sundararaman is a viable facilitator as well.
“We are excited [Gallagher] has two more years,” head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “She and Nrithya both have experience as setter and it’s great to have two people that can run the team.”
The setter in volleyball is comparable to the point guard of a basketball team or the quarterback of a football team. The setter orchestrates the offense and sets the tone for the game.
“We run the plays,” Gallagher said. “We are supposed to be the loudest out there and communicate with our teammates.”
Gallagher has been known for her tireless work ethic and hustle. She won the team’s 100 percent award in 2007 and 2008. Gallagher’s voice is something the team missed in close contests last year.
“Katie provides a lot of leadership for our team,” Lantagne Welch said. “Being in the situation where you sat out and watched, you see things in a different light. She’s an inspirational type leader on the team. She gets to add that more vocally when she’s on the court in whatever role.”
Originally from Winter Park, Fla., Gallagher realizes the potential of this volleyball squad. It has a balance of veteran leaders and youthful enthusiasm.
“It’s good to be back and my teammates have been so supportive,” Gallagher said. “The freshmen have been working hard. There are a lot of them but they add to our team in all different ways.”
The volleyball season opener is Friday at 6 p.m. against UT Arlington. The Canes are participating in the Nike Inviational with Wichita State and Oklahoma set to take place in Norman, Okla.
Justin Antweil may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.