Florida State senior outside hitter Katie Horton recently returned to Tallahassee after spending nine days participating in the U.S. Collegiate Team—Indianapolis program. Horton, the lone representative from the Seminoles and one of six Atlantic Coast Conference players to earn a spot at the event, was on one of the three 12-player rosters that went head-to-head in a three-day round-robin tournament.
The experience, which resulted in nine kills and only one error in 20 receptions (0.05) for Horton, provided her with the opportunity to refine several facets of her overall game that will certainly prove useful as the Florida State season approaches. Recognized as a hard hitter on offense and a quick, multi-faceted player on defense, Horton continued to work on both sides of the ball during her stint.
“I felt like blocking the slides helps and I got better learning some techniques because they ran it really quickly,” Horton said of her offensive improvements. “So I had to press over the net and be ready very quickly for that.
“Everyone who was there was really good so the hits were amazing. I knew I had to be ready for straight down balls and I really had to concentrate on having my platform out and being ready for any weird touches on the block and being able to get the tips—just small things like that can make all the difference,” added Horton of her defensive adjustments.
The Westland, Michigan, native will be relied upon as one of the major offensive threats in the Seminoles’ offense this season. A three-year starter for head coach Chris Poole, Horton ranks in the top five in four major categories among returnees, including kills (220-2nd), digs (308-2nd), service aces (14-3rd) and total blocks (45-4th).
“We are so fortunate to have had players every year since 2010 selected for the summer programs with the National Team,” said Poole. “Katie did an amazing job and continued to represent Florida State volleyball at a very high level. This experience is great for her confidence and she has the opportunity to compete among the best in the country during those 10 days training and competing. We are expecting big things from Katie this fall and I know that she is working hard to make this a great season.”
The combination of Poole and Florida State associate head coach Jeff Hulsmeyer, who integrates the daily in-season and off-season practice plans similar to those on the national and professional levels, paid off big dividends for Horton’s success in Indianapolis this summer.
“The biggest similarity that I saw was the tempo of the sets, especially when it comes to hitting,” said Horton. “I knew that they ran it quick and we run it quick too so that helped the transition. I was expected to be up and be ready so being accustomed to that was helpful.”
Another benefit for Horton was playing alongside several ACC foes including Tess Clark (Louisville), Janelle Jenkins (Louisville), Kelsey O’Neill (Pittsburgh), Jenna Potts (Pittsburgh) and Molly Sauer (Louisville). While the common goal was to make an impression on coaches for the U.S. National Team, the crafty Horton put their playing tendencies in a vault for use when Florida State clashes with them in upcoming matches.
“When you play in conference matches you are rivals, but when you are there you are on the same team so you have to play together. I did notice some things about them that I will use against them when we play them though,” Horton added with a smirk.
Horton and her Florida State teammates make their season debut on Saturday, August 27 when they head to UCF for a 1 p.m. match with the Knights.
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