Kober gets weekly award as Wildcats prepare for Cyclones

Junior libero Kersten Kober bumps the ball to another team member on Sept. 23, 2015 at Horejsi Center in Lawerence, Kansas. (File Photo by Rodney Dimick | The Collegian)

Junior libero Kersten Kober walked into the film room Monday afternoon before practice as the Wildcats prepared to face Iowa State on Wednesday, but she was unaware that she had just been named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week.

“I just walked into the film room and our assistant coach Jeff Grove said, ‘Congratulations,’ and I had no idea what he was talking about,” Kober said. “He told me the award I got and I was really excited.”

Kober had 37 digs in the match Saturday night against TCU, which was the third most in a single game in program history. That is also the most digs in a match by a Big 12 player since Iowa State Cyclone Caitlin Nolan had 43 against Kansas on Oct. 22, 2014.

“I couldn’t do it without my team, because we had some great touches up at the block and it was an all-around great effort,” Kober said. “I’m going to be happy about it right now, but tomorrow means the award is in the past and it’s time to keep working.”

Although she had a career-high night, Kober said there is always room to improve in the game.

“You can always work harder and perform better,” Kober said. “A lot of it is focusing on the small things, and I’m going to try and keep doing my best by being better than I was yesterday.”

An athlete’s skills are developed under the instruction of several coaches, and Kober received guidance from assistant coach Trent Sorensen several years before either of them became involved in K-State volleyball.

Sorensen, whose position with K-State was announced in February, coached Kober through the Tejas Volleyball club when she was 15 years old.

“I love the fact that I already knew someone here when I came,” Sorensen said. “It has been really nice for me to be able to coach her again.”

Sorensen helped Kober pick a college and suggested she look into playing for head coach Suzie Fritz at K-State.

“(Fritz) had come down to a camp down at my club and that’s kind of where I met her,” Kober said. “Coach Sorensen said I would love it here so when I came down here, I just loved it.”

Sorensen said he has seen Kober mature and grow up as she has progressed with her volleyball game and that he has always thought very highly of her.

“She has become so much more aware of how to help her teammates around her,” Sorensen said. “She has gone from zero ability with her hands to very comfortable with her hands, and she is only going to get better in the next two years. She has always been the workhorse and steady kid, whether that be today or back in high school.”

Although Sorensen has been a mentor and coach for Kober through the years, he takes no credit for her getting the Big 12 award.

“I’m just excited for her because she is well-deserving and no one deserved it more than her,” Sorensen said. “She sacrifices so much, and the best part about it is that she probably already put it past her that she got it. She is all about the team.”

For both Sorensen and Kober said they will admit it has been really nice to have a familiar face to see every day.

“I’ve known (Sorensen) since I was 15 years old, so it’s been nice to have him coaching me again,” Kober said.

And for Sorensen, he said he would be happy if his daughters grew up to be like her.

“She knows my family and has babysat for me a couple of times,” Sorensen said. “She’s not my child, but has been a really good friend of my family and myself.”

Kober, Sorensen and the rest of the Wildcats will travel to Ames, Iowa to take on Iowa State tonight inside Hilton Coliseum at 6:30 p.m.

The Wildcats are 9-6 overall and 1-2 in conference play while the Cyclones are 9-5 overall and 2-1 in the Big 12 conference. Last year, the teams split the season series and won on their respective home courts.

“The conference is as good as it has been,” Fritz said. “Everyone is kind of beating each other up and you can’t take days off. It’s hard to win period, but it makes it even harder when you are on the road, so we need to stay the course and keep doing the things we are doing right to win.”