Nov. 6, 2013
By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com
OXFORD, Miss. — Senior outside hitter Kara Morgan has had to adapt and change on the volleyball floor coming off labrum surgery in March.
Last year, the Pickens, S.C., native led Ole Miss offensively with a team-high 311 kills (3.02 kills per set), which is the third most in single-season program history. This year, she ranks fifth on the team with 151 kills (1.80 k/s) but has also improved other aspects of her game.
More importantly, as one of two seniors on this year’s team, Morgan has provided leadership on a roster dominated by underclassmen.
“It sucks being injured for my senior year, but just coming back and being able to experience the game in a different way, maybe not be as successful as I had been, has changed me as a player and person for the better,” Morgan said. “I definitely don’t hit as hard as I used to, so I have had to change my game and be more crafty as a player, learn new shots and do different things. It’s not all about swinging as hard as I can every single time.”
“She’s been a four-year starter for us,” head coach Joe Getzin said. “Unfortunately with an injury this last spring, I don’t think she’s been quite at the top of her game as she would like in her senior year. I’ve been really proud of her because of the way she’s stayed in there. Recently she’s really come on strong defensively and passing-wise. Kara’s been a good leader for us her whole career here.”
Prior to the season, after surgery, it was four months of rehab every day.
“It was tough, and there were times where my arm hurt and I didn’t want to do it,” Morgan said. “(Ole Miss athletics trainer) Meredith Pendergast was literally with me every single day, even on the weekends. She pushed me to be better and come back when I did. Without her, I wouldn’t have been back in four months.”
Morgan has played in and started all 23 matches this year but said she has only started to feel like herself the last two and a half to three weeks of the season.
She recently moved into fourth-place on the career kills list at Ole Miss after recording nine total kills at Missouri and Arkansas this past week. Morgan now has 882 kills in her Rebel career, passing a pair of former teammates in Regina Thomas and Allegra Wells along the way.
“It means a lot to me,” Morgan said. “It’s nice to be in the record books, but it’s more about how successful our team has been in the past and how successful our team has made me because I couldn’t do it without a team. It’s cool.
“Regina is one of the best players we have ever had here, and Allegra had a big influence on our team and the program, too, so it’s good to be recognized with players like them.”
Morgan has some individual and team goals in mind as the Rebels enter their eight remaining regular season matches this season, including tonight’s primetime showdown on the road against Mississippi State (7 p.m., ESPNU).
“My last games here, we want to grow as a program, and I want to do everything I can to help my team win,” Morgan said. “We have been struggling some this year, but the last eight games are going to be a growing and learning process for all of us.
“I want people to remember me as a good teammate and someone who they can look up to and someone who’s going work hard every single game and every single play and always put it out on the floor.”
Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller