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Sterling High School alum Katelyn Faulk, 13, enjoyed a year of learning and growth as a freshman volleyball player for Panhandle State University. She expects even more this fall.

Sterling volleyball alum finds her way in Panhandle 

It was quite the learning curve for Katelyn Faulk.

The 2018 graduate of Sterling High School made her way to NAIA’s Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Oklahoma and immediately discovered how difficult a transition it was to college volleyball.

“It was really nerve-wracking since I didn’t know how I would present myself to the other players and coaches,” Faulk said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be decent enough to play there. It was hard at first, but it got easier over time. Traveling and keeping up with schoolwork was probably the most ‘oh my gosh’ areas. Especially when we would go so far and be in game day mood and then have to go and do homework. My nerves were so spiked because I’d be pumped up for the game.”

Faulk appeared in 20 matches, playing in 46 sets for the 9-21 Aggies, finishing her first year with 64 digs and 26 kills as an outside hitter/back row.

“It was a step up to what I was used to being at, but I adapted pretty quickly too,” Faulk said.  Faulk felt better prepared for the collegiate game thanks to Sterling head coach Candace Southall’s lessons she instilled including the importance of work ethic. 

“I feel Coach Southall did a very good job preparing me. When I did get up there it was still a whole other level and it did take me back a bit.”

A coaching change before she arrived at Panhandle State did not deter Faulk from staying with the Aggies.

“I still fell in love with the school: It was a cute, small place to also get away from home too,” Faulk said. “It is secluded and there were some dislikes, but I just like how everyone knows everybody. If you are part of a sport, you are very known around the town where the school is, but the other towns around it. I am still 12 hours away from home, but I still don’t feel out of place.”

Much is expected of her this fall.

“Kate came in her freshman year with confidence, a little quiet but throughout the season I could hear her voice in leadership increase,” Panhandle State assistant head coach Shelby Bartley said. “As expected, her body was growing so we had a couple minor growing pains, but she pushed through what she could and became a better player. 

“On and off the court she is a very smart and intelligent young woman. She is an ideal athlete, pushes hard in the classroom and on the court. I am excited to see what the season has in store for her.”

Faulk is studying animal science with hopes of becoming a veterinarian. 

While she pursues her future, Faulk will try to excel in the present on the volleyball court.

“I am hoping and expecting that I do get to play more and our team has a better chemistry,” Faulk said. “I expect us to go a lot further. I have a strong feeling we will do better than last year.”

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