revised 10:39 a.m. to reflect coach’s comments
Charleston High alum Kat Blase helped Parkland College earn its third national volleyball title in seven seasons Saturday night by ripping off kills during key stretches, posting her second-best kill total and recording six blocks to earn the Most Valuable Player award at the national tournament.
Blase posted 13 kills overall in Parkland’s 3-1 victory over previously unbeaten No. 1 Cowley in Cedar Rapids, Iowa – the Cobras’ third title under coach Cliff Hastings. Parkland, which captured championships in 2015 and 2016, had lost in three successive national title games before last night and has earned a berth in the title game eight of the past nine seasons.
Blase finishes the season ranked among the nation’s best in several categories, finishing first for block assists (283), total blocks (337) and blocks per set (2.11). The Parkland freshman is also ranked No. 2 nationally for both hitting percentage (.462) and points (738.5) as well as 10th for solo blocks (54), 11th for kills (472) and 12th for service aces (71).
“Kat has been amazing all season both on and off the court,” Hastings said. “She’s been so open to feedback and making the little changes needed to transition her high school success to the college level. And, on top of that, she’s always listening, trying and trusting the process. She was absolutely deserving of the award and recognition.”
With Parkland trailing 19-17 in the opening set Saturday, Blase pounded three kills that enabled the Cobras to halt a four-point run by Cowley that, subsequently, began an 8-1 counter run ignited by two more of her kills to give Parkland a 25-20 win. Blase had several kills and blocks down the stretch in Parkland’s other two set wins.
“Every season, we work to win that national championship so I’m always happy for the girls when it comes to fruition,” Hastings said. “They are investing five hours a day and played almost 60 matches to ensure we are playing our absolute best with complete confidence when that time comes.”
Blase helped the Trojans capture the IHSA regional volleyball title and set a school record for wins (25) in 2019. The pandemic took away the team’s chance to repeat in 2020. She also returned to play basketball for her senior season in 2020 during which the Trojans finished the season undefeated.