As we transition to fall sports, Kyle Daubs interviews top area athletes who are preparing for their respective sports. These athletes will share their individual goals, team desires and, sometimes, the challenges COVID-19 has created in getting set for the season. Like you all, we are excited at the possibilities for fall sports in a few months.

By Kyle Daubs

Katarina Blase can be soft-spoken, but there is one topic where you can hear the passion in her voice.

Playing volleyball.

When it comes to restrictions due to COVID-19, wellness checks, wearing a mask indoors while running around the gym floor, it does not matter.

“It’s not the best, but I’m fine with it if that means I get to play volleyball,” Blasé said. “I feel like I am used to it. If I have to wear a mask to practice or play, I will.”

Blase was an instrumental piece in Charleston setting a new school record for wins. In a 25-12 season, the Trojans secured their first regional championship since 1997 in part to Blase recording 324 kills, 36 aces, and 57 total blocks. As a result, she was named to the first-team in the Apollo Conference.

Despite losing four seniors, Charleston has a real shot at winning another regional and an Apollo Conference title.

Charleston has not won the Apollo since 2005 and finished second last year with an 8-4 record. Two of those conference losses came to the conference champion, Mahomet-Seymour, which finished with a 10-2 record.

“I hope we do that good,” said Blase. “I want to win the Apollo. We just have to focus on being better than we were a year ago.”

Despite reports and rumors that have circulated the uncertainty of fall sports, Blase said the team is more worried about having fun.

“It’s not something that we think about because we don’t really know,” said Blase. “We just all have to be having fun right now. I’m just excited to be with each other. We care about playing volleyball. Wearing a mask is not a big deal. We just want to play volleyball.”

TOMORROW: Gavin Gonzalez, Mattoon High soccer.

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