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Eric Peterson, Published September 12 2012

Ness' competitive nature helping to drive Dragons volleyball team

Moorhead - Katy Ness and her Minnesota State Moorhead volleyball teammates were heading to their next airport gate, traveling home from a recent tournament in Florida.

The team split into two groups. One decided to walk, and one decided to take the shuttle.

“I was like, ‘Are we going to beat them?’ ” Ness said of the other group. “Coach was like, ‘Does everything have to be competitive, Katy?’ ”

That kind of drive has helped Ness develop into one of the top defensive players in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

The 5-foot-7 senior libero has already earned NSIC defensive player of the week honors twice this season. She has won the award seven times in her career.

“She’s a warrior,” said Dragons coach Tammy Blake. “If you are going into battle … I would take her with me.”

Ranked No. 22 in NCAA Division II, MSUM (8-1) starts its NSIC season at

7 p.m. Friday at St. Cloud State. MSUM has won its past six matches, including a 3-0 record at the Eckerd College Classic in St. Petersburg, Fla., last weekend. Ness was named the tournament MVP.

“She is a very hard worker and I think she has always been a hard worker from Day 1,” said Dragons senior hitter Meredith Egeland. “She came in here and she wanted to be known, and she has made a name for herself.”

Egeland has known the Ness name since high school when the two were rivals. Ness played for Ada-Borup. Egeland played for Climax-Fisher. They shared conference MVP volleyball honors when they were seniors.

“She was always a player who was going to hit the floor, so you always wanted to keep that ball away from her,” Egeland said of playing against Ness in high school.

A three-sport athlete at Ada-Borup, Ness was an outside hitter and has made the successful transition to being a defensive specialist for the Dragons.

Blake said it was hard to detect that Ness was a first-year player when she joined the program.

“She didn’t act like she was a freshman,” Blake said. “She was very vocal on the floor as a freshman and sometimes you don’t find that.”

Ness played in five state tournaments in high school: four basketball and one volleyball.

“I’m hopefully not one of those loud annoying people, but I like to be verbal on the court,” Ness said. “I think when you are verbal, that helps with your confidence.”

Ness has played in 97 matches for MSUM and has 1,682 digs in her career. She ranks third in program history in that category. Calla Oftedahl (2005-08) has the record with 2,331 digs. Ness has 212 digs through nine matches this season, a rate of 6.24 digs per set.

Blake said Ness is among the best defensive players she has coached.

“Day in and day out she is the same type of player which is pretty special,” said Blake, who is in her 18th season. “She doesn’t change in practice to a game in the competitiveness that she brings.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com