Girls volleyball: Read all about it: St. Viator's Hickey leads the way

Updated 11/2/2017 12:50 PM
  • St. Viator senior Catherine Hickey (21), here in action against Elk Grove, is the first player from her school to captain a Daily Herald girls volleyball all-area team.

      St. Viator senior Catherine Hickey (21), here in action against Elk Grove, is the first player from her school to captain a Daily Herald girls volleyball all-area team. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

You can book it.

Catherine Hickey, who grew up spending many hours in the library, is the captain of the Daily Herald's Northwest girls volleyball all-area team.

"I read a lot in elementary school (Terrace in Des Plaines)," Hickey said. "I was a library helper. I filed books. I just hung out in the library all the time. I read all the time."

So when she gets to Limestone College in South Carolina to continue her volleyball career next fall, it comes as no surprise that she wants to study along the lines of literature.

She sure knows how to find the lines on the volleyball court, or anywhere in between for that matter.

She has been drilling volleyball left and right like no one else in St. Viator history.

Hickey is leaving as the school's all-time career leader in kills.

She has 789 career kills, breaking the former mark of 773 set by Emily Leazer from 2008 to 2010.

Her 492 kills this far easily shattered the previous season record of 319 set by Kaitlin Calov in 2005.

Hickey's career best was 26 kills in a match against Carmel, midway through this season.

But Hickey would rather talk about her team, which had won 26 matches before Wednesday's sectional final triumph against Rosary.

"It's been an unbelievable season," said the 5-foot-11 senior, who has played on three straight regional championships teams, taking her cues each season from her classmate, setter Michaela Mueller. "We took off-season workouts very, very seriously. We expected everyone to be there all the time and I think it really shows on the court.

"We have a very strong defense, but I think our offense is very strong, too. And I think that is due to working out and putting in a lot of time and effort off the court."

Hickey does a lot more off the court, too.

The A student is also a member of student council and the National Spanish Society.

She has sung in Viator's production of Bye Bye Birdie and she has danced in the school's version of 'Joseph and Amazing Dream Coat.' She's also traveled to Germany twice to sing in a German choir.

"She's got a great personality," said Lions coach Charlie Curtin, who brought her up to the varsity as a freshman during the postseason. "For the most part, she is always smiling. She is just a fun kid to be around, happy go lucky."

It's not such a happy or lucky time for the opposing teams that must try to stop Hickey.

In addition to her attacking prowess, she also excels in the rest of the game.

She has 65 aces, 4-5 serve receptions, 16 blocks ad 226 digs.

"She's a great all-around player," Curtin said. "She serves aggressively, plays defense, passes well and she is definitely a leader on and off the court."

Hickey enjoyed her role as a co-captain.

"Overall, I'm just most proud of how I've improved my game," she said. "As captain, it's been reassuring to know how my teammates count on me to get points but also count on me for advice or anything they needed."

The Lions know they needed Hickey to have this year's success.

"We live and die by the way Catherine is playing," Curtin said. "When she is playing well, we are a very good team and hard to stop. When she struggles, sometimes we struggle as well.

"She's worked hard in the off-season. We knew she was going to be a good player but she finally grew into her body and became comfortable with controlling her body. She worked hard at those things at Rolling Thunder."

At Rolling Thunder, Hickey is coached by Lions assistant Jimmy Neill.

"I was hoping to get to this point," Hickey said. "My club coach (Neill) and I worked really hard during the club season to make it a goal to get to the sectional with St. Viator. We really wanted to get to state and this is definitely our year to do it. It's definitely the strongest team in my four years here."

Hickey got her first exposure to volleyball at summer camps and clinics at Terrace.

"My mom (Jeanne, who was also an outside hitter at Mother McAuley) played and she always encouraged my brothers (one older and one younger) and me to play," Catherine said. "I didn't start playing seriously until middle school (Chippewa in Des Plaines).

"When I fully committed to volleyball, I dropped all my other sports. I was always tall so that kind of drew me into volleyball and I wanted to do what my mom did. She is definitely the reason I started.

"My dad (Tom) is a big sports guy. He comes to every match."

And next year, Tom and Jeanne, will be able see their daughter in college matches.

"It's really far way (Gaffney, S.C.) and I'm really excited," she said. "It's going to be very different but I'm excited for the competition and challenge of playing at a higher level."

She is also excited for her education. She plans to study English.

"I know they have a good English program," she said. "I want to go into journalism and broadcast."

Hickey would love to be a news anchor on television.

"I'm a big talker so I'm trying to think of things I could put together with that," she said. "A news anchor would be fun."

"It would be hilarious to see her on TV one day and say 'That's my former player,' " Curtin said.

Not only his former player, but St. Viator's first captain of a Daily Herald all-area girls volleyball team.

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