TERRE HAUTE — On Sept. 5 when the Pepperdine volleyball team takes a short road trip south to play at Southern California, the match will be a passing of the torch for former Terre Haute South players now on the West Coast.
That night, freshman Kristen Seaton of the Waves, in her first collegiate season, will be matched up against USC senior Katelyn Bishop, who is concluding her career this fall with the Trojans.
Seaton enters her college career rated as one of the top 50 incoming recruits in the country, credentials similar to what Bishop earned on her way to USC.
Bishop recently returned from a 14-day trip to Europe, during which the Trojans not only bettered themselves by visiting several historic landmarks but also competed on the court against many different foreign national and professional teams. They finished the trip with a 7-4 record.
“We played the most amazing teams,” Bishop said this week via e-mail. “We started out experience landing in London for a short 12-hour layover, and like London is known for, it rained. It was still so amazing to see the sites that London is known for.”
The trip then took the team to Krakow, Poland, for a pair of volleyball matches.
“We won the first, and lost the second to the top Professional team in Poland,” Bishop said. “We got to do a lot of sightseeing there, and we visited the Wieliczka Salt Mine and Auschwitz.”
After Poland, Bishop and the team traveled through Slovakia to Hungary to play in a tournament called the Savaria Cup.
“We were the first non-national team to compete, and we finished second,” she said. “We lost to Hungary in five games, and yes we were in Hungary. The match against Hungary was amazing because we played in this little gym, which was packed with Hungarian fans who had drums and flags.”
Bishop and her teammates felt that while they did not win the tournament, the hostile environment in which it was played should prove helpful as they make their annual run through the NCAA Tournament.
“All the fans in Europe made a huge vocal impact,” Bishop said. “It was valuable experience that we gained by playing in front of this crowd. After several days in Hungary, we then went to have an amazing half day in Slovenia. Which I must say is one of my most favorite places on the trip.
“While in Maribor, Slovenia, we took a gondola to the top of a mountain, where we had dinner watching the sun set,” she continued. “It was a memorable night. The next morning we left to have a few shopping and sightseeing days.”
Venice, Italy, was next on the trip, and Bishop considers this locale a place someone has to experience first-hand.
“Venice is a place you have to see in person to realize how special and unique it truly is,” Bishop said. “We then drove to Verona, Italy, and spent around four hours looking at the city that was the setting for Romeo and Juliet.
The team then left for Milan, where Bishop said most of the girls did their “serious shopping,” and then headed over the Alps to their final destination of Montreaux, Switzerland.
The Trojans watched another National Team tournament, but also got to play the Swiss National team.
The trip was a chance for Bishop to return to the court at full strength, as a hand injury suffered early last season limited her spiking ability and kept her out of spring workouts.
“I took a ball off my finger and shattered a knuckle on my hitting hand,” she said. “I continued to play the rest of the season while taping it. I was unable to compete during the spring, because I needed to have my knuckle repaired.
“I came back shortly before we trained for Europe, and I was back to full swing quickly.”
Bishop can’t wait for the new season to begin, as the Trojans have been picked to finish second in the Pacific-Ten Conference and have a strong recruiting class coming in. She was happy with the experience in Europe, and also with how her teammates treated her during the down time in the spring.
“After going through the experience I had with my team, not only in Europe but with how supportive they were while I was rehabilitating, I have great confidence in the strength of our team both mentally and physically,” she said. “We are a very strong group of women, who enjoy each other and play hard for each other. We have the ability to go far this year, and considering that this is my last try at getting that ring, I can’t wait to get going.”
• Comings and goings — Several other athletes have decided upon their next place to play college sports.
• Terre Haute South grad Evan Pettit has signed a letter-of-intent to play baseball for Murray State University after a successful two-year career at Arkansas-Fort Smith. Last year, Pettit helped lead the Lions to a 39-20 record and their first National Junior College Athletic Association Region II championship in 20 years.
Pettit hit .346, third on the team, with three home runs and 23 RBI’s as the team’s starting catcher.
During the regional tournament, Pettit had an unusual situation in which a key at-bat was delayed approximately 24 hours by a rain delay. When the game resumed the following day, Pettit hit a two-run double that scored the winning runs in a 7-3 win over Seminole State.
“We needed that to get our day started right and have something positive happen right out of the box for us,” UAFS Coach Dale Harpenau told the Fort Smith Times-Record. “He got a fastball and hit it hard. It really got our day started.”
• Union graduate Sasha Stanton has transferred from Lake Land College to St. Mary-of-the Woods College for her second year of college softball. Stanton was the starting shortstop and cleanup hitter for the Lakers last season.
Stanton hit .286 with three home runs and 24 RBI’s for the Lakers, who were 35-14 the top seed in the Region 24 tournament before being upset by Lincoln Trail.
Morgan Finn, Lake Land’s top pitcher last year, also departed the Lakers for Division I St. Louis.
“Those kids are very close to me,” Lake Land Coach Denny Throneburg told the Mattoon Times-Courier. “It’s a great deal for both of them.”
• Terre Haute South graduate J.T. Hatfield has signed a letter-of-intent to play basketball at Olney Central, while Marshall grad Kayla Parsley has signed to play softball at Lincoln Trail.
South grad Bobby Woods missed the entire season last year for the Olney Central baseball team with arm trouble, but will return this fall and is expected to be able to return to the mound.
• Former Union athlete Desson Hannum, who played college football at Wabash, is in his first year as head football coach at Southmont High School. He has been an assistant coach at Logansport for the past five years.
• Greencastle native Joe Franklin has been hired as head track and field/cross country coach at the University of New Mexico. Franklin comes to UNM after 12 years as the head track and field/cross country coach at Butler University.
Among Franklin's athletes at Butler was Jennifer Macke of Terre Haute North.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches and coaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at email@example.com, and his Web site listing area athletes competing in college can be found at www.tribstarcollegereport.com.