Independence junior Katie May remembers the exact point in time when she decided to become a setter.
May, who recorded the 1,000th assist of her career in Independence’s 3-0 win over Beachwood on Oct. 10, was 11 years old. She witnessed former Wisconsin Badger and current Team USA setter Lauren Carlini do her thing on the court and was hooked.
“I fell in love with the way she loved the game,” May said of Carlini, a former Gatorade National Player of the Year and the 2016-17 Sullivan Award Winner for best amateur athlete in any sport in the United States. “Her drive and determination to make her teammates better while also improving her own skills in the gym has made a big impact on the player I strive to be.”
As a freshman, May saw limited action for the Blue Devils and recorded just 25 assists in 75 sets.
She moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore, but an injury limited her playing time. She finished the 2016 season with 308 assists in 42 sets played.
May broke out this fall and has been one of the key figures in the Blue Devils’ 21-1 regular season and already has 729 assists in 67 sets played with the postseason tipping off this week.
“It is a great accomplishment for Katie as a setter,” said Independence coach Megan Osysko. “It’s just another step in the right direction for our team and program.”
For May, the milestone assist is just confirmation she’s back on the right track after the setback last fall.
“Knowing I have reached 1000 assists feels pretty good,” she said. “I have worked hard coming back from my injury last year and it’s paying off. I am now able to get the ball in the right spots for the hitters to score.”
Putting the ball in the right spot is part of May’s success. The rest comes from knowing her hitters and understanding Independence’s offense.
“The bond I have built with the passers and hitters is crucial,” May said. “We all need to connect. When I constantly get feedback from hitters about different sets it’s awesome because that’s part of the communication you need on a team to be successful.”
May, who hopes to continue her playing career in college, is focused on leading the Blue Devils to a deep run in the postseason.
Independence won a fifth-straight Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division title and earned the No. 1 seed in the Division III Elyria District.
“With the talent we have on this team and with the drive we all have to be successful, we could accomplish some pretty awesome things this postseason,” she said. “Our goals are high.”
The Blue Devils open the postseason at Elyria High School on Oct. 19 against the winner of the sectional semifinal between No. 8 Warrensville Heights and No. 9 Wellington.