When practices began for the 2013 volleyball season, St. Charles North’s Taylor Krage found herself in a new position, but it had nothing to do with where she plays on the court.
“I’d always been someone who played volleyball and hadn’t been put into any kind of leadership role,” Krage said. “Coach (Lindsey) Hawkins was very straightforward with me on what my role would be now and said I had to step into a bigger leadership role, which took me a little while to get used to because I’m not really the vocal leader type — or hadn’t been.”
Yet Krage stepped right into the situation and blended leadership with her power game from the outside hitter position. She was a major catalyst in St. Charles North winning a regional title, sharing the Upstate Eight River title and sweeping rival St. Charles East. As a result, Krage, a Northern Illinois University recruit, has been named Courier-News Girls Volleyball Player of the Year.
Krage finished with 352 kills and had a .252 hitting efficiency, which was high considering her amount of attempts. And she displayed her versatility by going over the 200-dig mark and producing 28 aces.
“I think I play with power, but wasn’t the player I could be until I got the technique down,” she said. “I could jump and had plenty of arms strength, but you have to be smart. You can’t just pound away at every ball or it will go out of bounds.
“You need to have a lot of volleyball IQ and see the defense. And you have to do all of that in a split-second when you’re in the air.”
Krage credited her club play at Fusion with helping develop the right skills. She was on a team with tall, strong leapers like Penn State recruits Ali Frantti (Richmond-Burton) and Bryanna Weiskircher (Rockford Boylan).
“I certainly wasn’t the tallest player we had,” she said. “We had a couple 6-3 players who are touching 10-(foot)-4 or 10-5 and they’re making me look like a little shrimp. So I had to be a shot-maker and not be the person taking the big swing. And it really helped me for this year.”
Krage comes from a volleyball family, one which has adopted the sport. Her father Tom and mother Beth did not play the sport, but all four Krage children do.
She is the third in a line of four players — the second of three sisters. Her 5-11 sister Ashley graduated in 2011 after playing for the Stars. Her 25-year-old brother Jordan played.
And her 6-3 sophomore sister Daley had 248 kills for the Stars’ varsity in earning special mention All-Area status.
“We always joke that each one of the sisters gets taller as we go along,” Krage said. “We all started out playing other sports, too, but we realized how much we liked it and each of us stuck to this.”
With club and three girls playing at once, Krage said the family joke was that there was only one weekend from the start of high school season until club season ended in summer when someone wasn’t watching or playing volleyball.
While Krage points to her family influence as making for her success this season, she also pointed to teammates and coaches.
“We have the perfect mix of coaches,” she said. “Coach (Lindsey) Hawkins teaches us so much about heart and being driven.
“It was a special season to have won three invitational tournaments for the first time in school history and a conference and regional, to do so many things that have never been done, a spectacular season and it’s a team I’ll never forget.”