SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – Our latest athlete of the week just may have been the hidden piece that helped Westhill to back-to-back state championships, sophomore Kate Heinrich.
It’s hard to imagine a better start to a volleyball career then back-to-back undefeated regular seasons to go along with those two straight championships.
“Not every team gets to go to the state championship and we got the opportunity last year to go. And to do it again is just amazing and to win it again is just unreal”, said Heinrich.
Heinrich is one of five sophomores on this younger Warriors squad, but she’s learned a lot from the departing four seniors in Sara Galante, Gianna Militi, Sarah Schwartz and Jill Wicks.
“They’re my sisters, I love them to death and I don’t know what I’m gonna do without them,” said Heinrich. “You know I always forget that I’m a young player because I’m always with all the older upperclassmen, so its just sad and a great feeling just to be with them.”
Kate was second on the team this year in kills and first in blocks. Her coach, Karla Prince, knows how important she is to the warriors and so do opponents.
“She’s arguably the best middle hitter in New York state. Hands down shes the best in this area, Rochester, in Buffalo and she was in Class B this weekend too,” said Karla Prince, first-year Westhill volleyball coach.
“Kate is so strong at the net defensively, the ball does not get past Kate, she attacks everything at the net with aggression and she can crush a ball at the drop of a hat whenever expected. Kate is a dominant force at the net and every team sees her as a major major threat.”
Heinrich’s role will change next year as a junior, but her expectations will not.
“We’re gonna lose our setter next year so we have to build, continue to build our team up to get to states next year again because I plan on doing that. I plan on going back,” said Heinrich. “I’ve never lost a game so I don’t plan to in the future at all.”
“Like Kate, I would expect too that we’re gonna win a couple more championships over the next few years,” said Coach Prince. “Six out of my nine starters will be returning next year and we have many younger players that we are grooming and tweaking that will fill the roles of our missed seniors.”