Top national recruit. U.S. youth national team member. National high school freshman of the year. MaxPreps All-American. The accolades are daunting for Seven Lakes senior outside hitter Ally Batenhorst, the No. 3 ranked player in the Class of 2021.
Top national recruit. U.S. youth national team member. National high school freshman of the year. MaxPreps All-American.
The accolades are daunting for Seven Lakes senior outside hitter Ally Batenhorst, the No. 3 ranked player in the Class of 2021.
Daunting, and seemingly never-ending.
On Wednesday morning, the Nebraska verbal commit added Under Armour All-American to her distinguished resume when she was named as one of 11 athletes to the prestigious first team.
“I’m insanely grateful for everything,” Batenhorst said. “I’ve always just tried to work hard and do my own thing. I get these things and I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ I never know how to take it. It’s pretty incredible.
“I just have to maintain that and keep working hard. I just want to keep improving and see where I can go with everything.”
Since the award was established in 2008, former Under Armour All-American selections include 79 collegiate All-Americans and 14 athletes on the current USA volleyball women’s national team roster.
Batenhorst will compete in the Under Armour All-American match on New Year’s Day in Orlando, Florida.
The 6-foot-4 Batenhorst is averaging 6.7 kills per set with a .359 hitting percentage for the 13-0 and No. 4 state-ranked Spartans. She ranks second on the team in serving aces with 17 and averages 4.4 digs per set, also good for second on the team.
Batenhorst has recorded 30 or more kills in a game twice this season.
“It’s my last season and I want to leave it all out there,” Batenhorst said. “I want to finish strong before college, and I do believe we can make another run at state. I really want to do that.”
For her four-year varsity career, Batenhorst is averaging 5.4 kills and 3.1 digs per set with 238 total blocks and 156 total aces.
But this season, she has played better than she ever has. Batenhorst is setting career-best marks in kills and digs per set, hit percentage and kill percentage (47.3).
“She’s more versatile, being that she can move anywhere along the net and get a good swing,” said Seven Lakes coach Amy Cataline, who also praised her star player’s humility and leadership. “She’s more flexible with the different options along the net.”
Batenhorst and her team returned to the court Wednesday afternoon for the first time since beating Katy, 3-1, on Oct. 16. Since then, the program had to suspend activities and postpone district games due to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases. The school recently temporarily shut down campus for three days because of COVID cases.
The Spartans will play a game for the first time since that Katy win on Saturday when they face Mayde Creek and Morton Ranch in a home doubleheader as part of a five-game makeup schedule.
“It’s crazy. It’s insane how weird this has all been,” said Batenhorst, who said she did not get sick. “Everything is unknown and always changing. But our team is mentally stable. We don’t focus on the future. We focus on the now and ourselves. I think we’re pretty good staying level-headed.”
Batenhorst said she sees similarities between this year’s Spartans team and the 2017 team that lost in the state championship game when she was a freshman.
This year’s Spartans are strong on serve-receive and the defense gets better with each game. Other than veteran stalwarts in Batenhorst and younger sister and junior setter Casey, Seven Lakes has benefited from the standout play of junior hitter Emma Schroder, senior middle blocker Katarina Teahen, and senior middle blocker Mayo Olibale.
“I felt this year, we had the talent,” said Batenhorst, who said this year’s team is similar to the ’17 club in its mindset and drive to get to the state tournament. “But I also think we’re executing really well, and a lot better than I thought. We’re a really solid team.”
Since her freshman year, Batenhorst has dealt with great expectations. The PrepVolleyball.com National High School Freshman of the Year honor was “super cool” and one of her favorites, and it set the standard. It put Batenhorst on the radar.
And, as each season has gone on, she has done nothing but thrive, and perhaps even surpass expectations, in the spotlight.
“Freshman year, I was careless, just doing my own thing and not thinking about much at all,” Batenhorst said. “As I got older, I realized the expectations and I understood I had a responsibility to fulfill that. I’ve definitely had ups and downs with everything, but I try to not think about that. It’s volleyball. Just play my game, play for the fun of it and think of always improving myself.”