By Kyle Daubs

Even though we will have to wait and see the best season of Katerina Blase, at least we know where we can watch in 2021. 

The Charleston High School senior officially signed with Parkland College earlier this week.

Last year, Parkland finished 57-3 overall last fall when it won the NJCAA Central District Championship and finished runner-up to No. 4 ranked Scottsdale in the 2019 NJCAA Division II national tournament. In the postseason, Parkland upended Illinois Central College and Bismarck State College to advance the national championship, where it won five matches before falling to the title game. 

“I signed with Parkland because I wanted to be closer to home, but more than that, I wanted to play on a competitive team,” said Blase. “Parkland has a history of being a hard and fast winning team.”

Blase will look to make an immediate impact as a middle hitter or blocker and hopes to play right away. 

“I will make them better by coming in with a winning attitude,” said Blase. “I bring a history of making points during crunch time and shutting down opponents’ hits at the net. I’m athletic, a team player, and determined to do my best to help make my team the best they can be.”

Parkland coach Cliff Hastings returns for his 12 overall seasons after posting an overall record of 545-51. The Cobras have recorded at least 50 wins in each of the past seven seasons. Parkland captured national championships in 2015 and 2016, as finished second four times.

Blase started playing for Prime Time under Neil Andrews last year. Blase said that Hastings learned more about her personality and abilities through Andrews. 

“He has seen me grow over the last four years and says he wants to help me reach my highest potential while playing for him,” said Blase.  

Hastings approached Blase after the President’s Day Competition in St. Louis.

“We sat down and talked,” said Blase. “ I visited another school just before COVID hit, but my recruiting process got shortened due to it.  I had a meeting set up with U of I Springfield the week that they mandated us all quarantine. I never got a chance to visit their school. I went back and forth between Parkland and another school, but, in the end, I wanted to be on a team with an established coach and winning history and closer to home.”

Blase has been one of the most accomplished volleyball players to go through Charleston High School. Blase was an AVCA All-American in 2019, a first-team All-Apollo selection and was named to both Champaign News-Gazette’s All-State Special Mention 50 and the Herald and Review All-Area teams. In addition, Blase was the co-MVP at the 2019 Shelbyville Tournament, as was named all-team for the Charleston Invitational and Bradley-Bourbonnais Moldenhauer Classic. 

“Kat has done a great job both on and off the court at Charleston,” Charleston High volleyball coach Steve Pamperin said. “Kat leads by example, has a great attitude, works hard and sets a great example for entire program.  As an individual, Kat has accomplished so many things on the court and her recognitions are very well deserved.  As a teammate, her and her teammate’s efforts have led to amazing achievements for the CHS program.  It has been a pleasure coaching Kat, and we are all looking forward to seeing her in action at Parkland.”

Blase was an integral part of leading Charleston to a school-record 25 wins and the program’s first IHSA Regional Championship since 1997. She owns the school record for career blocks (155) and for kills in a season (324).

At Charleston Middle, she was a part of the 2015 eighth-grade basketball team that won state as well as the volleyball team that finished fourth. 

“Shoutout to my coaches Steve Pamperin at Charleston, Neil Andrews at Prime Time, Dipen Patel (Former Mattoon High School coach), and all my friends and parents for being my biggest supporters,” said Blase. 

An abbreviated high school season is scheduled to begin next month.

Blase is excited to know that she will get to continue her volleyball career no matter what. 

“Being a college volleyball player is a huge honor to me,” said Blase. “Knowing that Cliff sees potential in me and that he wants to help me improve even more to become the best I can be is exciting. I get to play on a team with others who have similar interests as mine. The most important thing is I get to continue playing a sport I love.”