Endowed Scholarship Story: Kasi Clark
This is the third in a series of stories on Portland State student-athletes who've earned Endowed Scholarships. For all the stories, click on the FEATURES link just above the Viking Vision video box at GoViks.com.
Viking volleyball's starting libero Kasimira (Kasi) Clark had quite a season.
She earned her second Big Sky Conference Libero of the Year Honor and had eye-popping numbers in digs, 545, 4.82 per set—second in the Big Sky Conference. She was also in the conference's top 10 in aces with 0.29 per set.
"Kasi had an amazing year in 2013, earning her second consecutive BSC Libero of the Year award. This year was unique in that she played the entire season with a painful, significant injury. For Kasi to put together the season she did while being injured took a lot of guts, patience and determination," said volleyball Head Coach Michael Seemann of this year's winner of the Barbara Coit-Yeger Endowed Scholarship.
Clark tore the labrum in her hip and was told, after an MRI, that she couldn't play for the season.
It was a slow developing injury, which began with occasional hip pain during her freshman season.
After checking to make sure she couldn't do long term damage to her hip, Clark decided to give it a go.
"I wrapped it up and tried to make the pain better that way. But, it still was very, very painful. Some days were better than others. Some days I'd get up late and it was hard to get to practice," said the (now) senior from Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, CA.
Through all that, Clark was able to improve her game over the season.
"Being able to read the hitter and be in the spot I wanted to be before the opposing hitter made her move," and improving her speed and agility.
"Kasi has the ability to change the nature of a set. She robbed many hitters of fantastic kills that typically give the opponent momentum, and instead put us in positions to score," said Seemann.
Her goal last season was trying to end the season with more digs than the year before.
"It didn't work, but there were still a lot of players in the league who'd played against me the year before and they kept the ball away from me," she said.
Still, she tried to cover more of the court to take more of the defensive pressure off hitters so they could concentrate on hitting.
"When you have a player like Kasi touching 60-percent of your contacts, you can expect to be in a position to win," said Seemann.
A highlight of the year for her was the away North Dakota match (a Viking loss), which went five sets with no more than a two-point difference between the teams.
"It was very competitive and that's a lot more fun than a blow out one way or the other. We lost that one, but we beat them pretty badly here," she said.
Clark had surgery on her hip last December and as of June is pain free.
"It's different coming back … a relief. I'm able to do things I couldn't do. I'm retraining my brain to remember that I can do more things, move in ways I used to," she said.
Her goals next year are to end the year with the all-time Portland State career record in digs. She has 1,369 and the record held by Eavi Shovlin (1994-97) is 1,742. She also would like to get Libero of the Year for a third time … "and to allow the six incoming freshmen to be confident and comfortable … show them how to play … and winning! ... to go to the conference tournament and win."
This summer she'll continue rehabbing her hip, will be working on quickness and speed and on getting back into shape. And, although she's earned Big Sky All-Academic Honors each of her first three years and is majoring in Speech and Hearing Sciences.
"I'm going to be a gym rat this summer," she said.
Seemann said his expectations for Clark next year include using her leadership to help six freshmen excel. Last year, she became an outstanding mentor for freshman Valerie Hughes, who was able to carve a role for herself and help win games.
"Ultimately, Kasi wants to help her team win the conference tournament and go the NCAA tournament. While we celebrated a lot of success last season, coming up short at the conference tournament was disappointing. I believe Kasi is hungry for a title and trip to the NCAA tournament. She's healthy and I believe Kasi has the ability to have a special senior year and make an impact on this conference and on the national scene. She expects a lot from herself," said Seemann.