At this time last year, Kate Bowman was a seldom-used freshman middle hitter. Now a sophomore, Bowman changed positions to outside hitter and is a shining light in Emory’s powerhouse volleyball program.
“Kate is one of the best athletes on our team,” Head Coach Jenny McDowell said. “We knew we needed her on the court. Given the fact that we had two seniors in the middle position, we thought it was best to move Kate.”
Bowman’s interest in volleyball began to develop at the age of 12. She gravitated towards the sport due to the immense enjoyment she found in playing it, in addition to the joys of socializing with her teammates.
As she aged, her love for both the sport of volleyball and the deep friendships that grew from it did not change. Those were determining in her decision to suit up for the Eagles.
“I loved that all the girls on the team were really different but accepting of each other,” Bowman said. “I loved the sense of family alongside the great academics.”
Not only did Bowman fall in love with Emory, but the Eagles fell in love with her. Due to her drive and contagious cheerfulness, McDowell knew Bowman would be a tremendous player to recruit.
“I knew instantaneously that we had to have her on our team, and it has obviously paid off.” McDowell said. “I think Kate has the ability to be one of the best ever to go through our program. And she does mainly because she has the work ethic to do that.”
It has indeed paid off, a fact which her season totals thus far reflect. Her 141 total kills and rate of 2.76 kills per game trail only senior captain and middle hitter Breanah Bourque.
She is also second on the team with 159 digs and 3.12 digs per game and has contributed nine service aces.
“She has served very well, she has played great defense, she has attacked very efficiently in the front row,” McDowell said. “So, we are asking her to do it all, and she is the kind of athlete that is capable of doing that. I think her success early this season really is based on how hard she worked last spring and the amount of time and effort and training she did this summer. And it is really showing on the court now.”
Bowman, or K-Bo as her teammates call her, displayed some of this versatility in last week’s Trinity Invitational, posting double-doubles (double digit kills and digs) in every game of the tournament.
“Kate is just a really constant force on the court,” Bourque said. “We can count on her no matter what. I know that if Kate messes up, she is going to get the next [one].”
Bowman also got much desired revenge against Christopher Newport University, who upset Emory in the regional finals last year. She says the game, in which she registered 12 kills and 23 digs, may have been her best performance to date.
“[My games] keep getting better,” Bowman said. “This past Friday, we got a little revenge, which was a lot of fun. Our whole team played really well and as a team.”
Despite all of her personal achievements this season, Bowman prefers to focus more on the team than on herself.
She attributes the success and growth she has seen along her volleyball journey to the work ethic she has learned from the tutelage of her teammates.
“The seniors and other players who have gone through the program established the work ethic and the ideals that the volleyball program stands for,” Bowman said. “Working your hardest, working for team, enjoying volleyball and never giving up.”
With this appreciation for hard work and recognition of the importance of the team, Bowman has helped lead the Eagles to sixth in the national rankings and a record of 11-2. But Bowman aspires for more than personal and regular season success.
“[Our goal is to] win everything,” Bowman said. “Win the conference, win regionals and win the NCAA tournament.”
Bowman is not only respected and admired by her coaches and teammates for her natural athleticism and terrific work ethic, which get displayed during practices and games. She is also well-loved for the bubbly personality and high level of character that are always readily apparent.
“I have never met anyone that does not just love Kate,” McDowell said. “She is one of my favorite people to ever come through this program. She has been a great example in every area of her life, on and off the court. She has all the attributes we look for in an Emory volleyball player.”
–By Zonair Khan
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