There has never been a moment too big for Katie Clark.
Since her first year at TCU, the middle blocker has been the best when the lights have been the brightest.
This was never more evident than on Oct. 6, 2019, when Clark put together her best performance to date to push the Frogs past Texas Tech University in Lubbock after a back-and-forth five-set battle. The then-sophomore was unstoppable, collecting 21 kills and a block to give TCU their first Big 12 victory of 2019.
Clark finished her 2019 campaign as TCU’s leader in kills (289), blocks (99) and points (353.5). Her efforts earned her a spot on the All-Big 12 Second Team and All-NIVC First Team after the Frogs made it to the NIVC semifinals.
Heading into her junior season, Clark’s coaches and teammates are confident that when the ball is heading her way, she is going to deliver.
“Last season she [Clark] played right side, left side and ended up proving to be one of the most dominating middle blockers in our league,” TCU head coach Jill Kramer said. “We are excited for her continued development and contributions to our team this upcoming season.”
In June, recognition continued to pour in for Clark. The Arlington, Texas, native gained her first career preseason award, as she was one of eight players unanimously named to the preseason All-Big 12 team. She was also the only unanimous selection who was not on the 2019 All-Big 12 First Team.
Now, with the Frogs set to kick off their season against Baylor in just under two weeks, TCU will look to rely on Clark’s hard hitting and leadership as they navigate pursuing a Big 12 title amid a pandemic.
“My goals for the season are to improve as myself but also help myself and the team improve together.”Katie Clark, middle blocker for TCU volleyball
A four-year letter winner at Arlington High School, Clark has long been a dangerous offensive threat. The 6’3″ middle blocker finished with a school-record of 2,329 kills, to go with 745 digs and 335 blocks. An outstanding senior year saw her finishing with a spot on the 2017 Under Armour Girls High School All-America Third Team ranked as FloVolleyball’s 11th-best senior in Texas.
Things did not change when Clark got to TCU. Though injury held her to just 22 matches in her first year, she dominated the time in which she did play. Reinforcing Clark’s theme of playing well in the biggest moments, eight of her 10 double-digit kill matches came during Big 12 play.
During the week of Oct. 8, 2018, Clark became the sixth player to earn Big 12 Rookie of the Week and Offensive Player of the Week in the same week. She would go on to finish third among TCU players with 194 kills and 2.37 kills per set.
As a sophomore, Clark demonstrated that she would do whatever it took for her team to succeed. She played both middle blocker and right side, making her a scouting nightmare for opponents.
After one of the Frogs’ recent practices, Kramer hinted at the fact that Clark could see even more diversity in her role this season.
“She’s been training on the middle and on the right side for the last two or three weeks, and today, she played on the outside,” Kramer said. “She lit it up.”
Kramer emphasized that having players who can play several positions is important “all the time, but especially in a situation like this.”
Dating back to March, when TCU basketball saw hopes of a postseason vanish because of the coronavirus, Clark has used the uncertainty surrounding her season to motivate her.
“I know if our season were to be canceled or moved or anything like that, I would be devastated,” Clark said. “It made me very humble and grateful to be able to play this season.”
Clark said she used time in quarantine not only to get better at her craft but also to get acquainted with the incoming first-years.
“I think it brought us together,” Clark said about time in quarantine. “We got to bring in our first-years and start to get to know them and get them comfortable with our program.”
Despite the success she has seen in her first two seasons, Clark is far from done. Heading into a season filled with ambiguity, she said she believes volleyball season is just as important as any other sport’s for both TCU Athletics and the NCAA as a whole.
“I think it’s just super important that every sport got to play this season,” Clark said. “Yes, others are fan-favorite sports, but each sport individually brings so many different, unique things to the table.”
To be competitive this season, TCU will certainly need to lean on the game and experience of their third-year middle blocker when the going gets tough.
The Frogs open their 2020 season on Friday, Oct. 2 at Baylor.