Record setter: WU’s Hampson sets all-time school mark in assists

Eric Smith

Anyone who has ever tried setting a volleyball knows it’s not the easiest thing to do. But for Lady Blues junior Kate Hampson, it’s her job, and she’s pretty good at it.

“Part of it is almost that you are almost born with good hands because, some people cannot set. God did not give them the ability to set,” said Hampson. “Technically we work on it every day in practice, but I believe it’s like God-given to have a good hands.”

Saturday night in a conference match-up against No. 13 Pittsburg State, Hampson was able to use her good hands to become the career assist leader and help the No. 8 Lady Blues earn a 3-1 victory (25-18, 25-20, 22-25, 29-27).

Lindsey Kersting’s previous record of 3,915 assists from 1999-02, was broken by Hampson, who finished the night with a season-high 54 assists and a current career total of 3,963.

“It feels really good to break the record, but honestly I can’t get assists if my teammates don’t get kills for me,” said Hampson, who had 114 assists for the week. “A lot of the credit goes to them because this wouldn’t be possible without them.”

And that’s where Lady Blues hitters like sophomore Ashley Shepard come in. Leading the team with 18 kills Saturday night, the Shepard and Hampson connection has been a deadly combination for opponents, and it helps that they are pretty good friends.

“We came together in the same recruiting class,” Shepard said. “We’ve had people drop off from our class but her, Kelci Wigger and I are the last of our class, even though Kelci and I have red-shirted.

“Kate is the lonesome junior of the team which is really sad. When she’s gone, it’s going to be a huge loss for our team. When we’re down, she helps our team stick together. Without her, we’d probably fall apart as a team.”

Although Hampson is a crucial part of the team, others shined as well last week as the Lady Blues defeated Missouri Southern 3-0 Wednesday and Southwest Baptist 3-0 Friday.

Against Missouri Southern, Mollie Lacy led the team in kills, attack percentage, and blocks and the Lady Blues went on runs of 11-1 and 18-1 to defeat the Lions easily.

Against Southwest Baptist, the Lady Blues defeated the Bearcats for the 18th straight time as Wigger led the team with eight kills and Molly Smith had 18 digs.

Overall for the week, the Lady Blues won nine of 10 sets and defeated a nationally-ranked team in Pitt.

“We stepped up and played tough because we had some pretty tough competition,” said Shepard. “It was good to finally have that feeling that we had accomplished a really, really big win.”

The Lady Blues have won seven in a row and are 21-2 overall and 6-2 in the MIAA.

They will hit the road to play at 7 p.m. at Fort Hays State before coming home to play No. 11 Emporia State at 7 p.m. on Friday in Lee Arena. Although Shepard said Wednesday’s game will get the team’s attention first, it is hard not to look to the Hornets.

“It’s always a big rivalry just with the school in general,” said Shepard. “It’s even more so for me because my sister plays for them and we are really competitive. We know they’re No. 1 in the MIAA still. We’re just going to have to come out like we played on [Saturday]. Come out strong, flow like a team, and just get after them from the beginning and not let down.”

“We like playing these games more than games we win fairly easy because this is what shows us how we’re doing. How are team plays. We like being able to step up to a tough team, and play this way, play competitive.”