NEW ORLEANS (BVM) — Athletes at all levels work their hardest to accomplish their goals. They work hard to enjoy winning and being able to prove to themselves and others that they are capable of competing at a high level.
That’s exactly what the St. Mary’s Dominican volleyball team did during Kate Baker’s final two years when the two-time Gatorade Louisiana Volleyball Player of the Year helped lead the program to back-to-back state championships.
“[Winning] the first one was really special,” Baker said. “I didn’t join a program that was a powerhouse or a dynasty that has won state championships. It was built from the ground up. My freshman year we didn’t even make it to the state tournament.”
After capturing its first-ever state championship, Dominican came back even stronger and captured their second title. But capturing the title for a second wasn’t a foregone conclusion. With an overall record of 48-2, Dominican found themselves down 7-3 in the last set of the match. Baker and her teammates would ultimately battle back and win the match.
“I was just thinking one point at a time and not giving up,” Baker said. “It would have been easy to think we were out of it and the game was over but [I just] trusted my teammates and all the work my teams and I put in for years and years.
Back-to-back Div I State 🏐 Titles for Dominican after a 5-set battle w/St Joe's
Hilites start in 5th set @Vball_DHS up 13-11
Congrats to @LSUBeachVB signee & reigning Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year @katebaker25 for a 2nd str8 Most Outstanding Player award in the finals pic.twitter.com/B26DxcFI0R
— Varsity Sports Now (@VSNLouisiana) November 15, 2021
The program is on the rise. It was a surreal moment of the hard work we put in to get to where we [are now]. We weren’t a program that people took much notice of but now with back-to-back state championships hopefully that will change.”
Along with two state titles, the 5-foot-8 senior finished her senior season with 401 digs, 202 kills and 1,232 assists. Baker also is a two-time Division I state tournament MVP, a two-time Division I Player of the Year and a 2021 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) second-team All-American selection. She finished her prep career with 3,973 assists, 1,565 digs and 842 kills.
“Kate is so dangerous from everywhere on the court,” Cabrini High School head volleyball coach Kasey Laird-Dennies said in a Gatorade press release. “She also understands the game mentally at such a high level, it really distinguishes her from the competition.”
Alongside a successful career on the court, Baker maintained a 4.36 GPA in the classroom. Baker is also a member of the Mu Alpha Theta mathematics society, the National English and National Art Honor Society. Baker has volunteered for Henry Aucion Foundation, which supports pediatric heart patients and their families.
Now that her career at St. Mary’s Dominican is over, Baker is set to join LSU beach volleyball later this year. And if it weren’t for the COVID-19 shutdown, Baker may have never fallen in love with beach volleyball.
“All I could really do was go to the beach,” Baker said. “Beach volleyball training and tournaments in my area never really shut down. I was out there every day and I really fell in love with [beach volleyball]. And when I was able to start talking to coaches, I was contacted by LSU [right away] and about a month later is when I committed to LSU beach volleyball.”
When Baker lands in Baton Rouge, she will be joining one of the most successful beach volleyball programs in the country led by coach Russell Brock. Along with Coach Brock, the program has found prominence thanks to players like Kristen Nuss, Claire Coppola and Taryn Kloth. Kate Baker will aim to become one of those players when she puts the gold and purple for the first time.
“It is a dream to represent LSU. Their atmosphere for beach volleyball is something I knew I wanted to be part of,” Baker said. “Coach Brock is so welcoming and I could sense the family atmosphere and how much he cares for his players and [see] how much everyone in the program cares about each other…LSU was definitely the right place for me.”