The Kellogg Wildcat volleyball team endured a tough season this past year, but for senior Kaili Cates, the season was about something more than winning or losing.
Cates was named to the Intermountain League all-league volleyball team recently after the league coaches voted on the team at their end of the season meeting.
Cates has been a workhorse for the program for the last three years, but this season challenged her in ways that she never saw coming.
“I found out that my mom had been diagnosed with cancer,” Cates said. “It made me really angry at first, and I was distracted, but I was able to channel that into my play later in the season.”
Cates has been a terror to opposing defenses all season long with her coy mix of strength and athleticism, which allowed her to be one of the Wildcats best hitters and servers.
To say that the season was bumpy would be an understatement.
“We had so much go on this season,” Cates said. “It was hard for us to get into a regular rotation, but eventually we had to figure it out when we had some injuries, but out of that a lot of girls stepped up. I really think Kat (Rauenhorst) deserves recognition for how much she improved and became one of our best players.”
Through the struggle, Cates forged new strengths and better relationships.
“It was hard to get my focus right, because I want to be there for my mom,” Cates said. “But I also wanted to help my team and through that I was able to build a stronger relationship with coach (Hollie Yrjana).”
Cates will now move onto basketball where she has cemented herself as one of the IML’s top players, including an IML all-league nomination that she received as a sophomore.