Trojan Spotlight: Kendall Bateman
Oct. 8, 2009
When sophomore setter Kendall Bateman first came to USC before the 2008 season, she figured she would have a few years to settle in before having to take over the No. 1 position. She would be in for a surprise when things changed last December and she found out that she would be the Women of Troy's primary setter.
"It was definitely a huge change to know that next fall, there was a possibility that I would be starting," said Bateman. "I think a lot of the girls really supported me when we found out. When the spring started, we realized we needed to make a change within our team and how we played. I think by improving over the spring and summer, it was a big commitment and you have to realize that you have to compete for the position every day."
Bateman has not disappointed and as of October 5, she was second in the nation for assists per set (12.09 aps) and anchored an offense that is second in the nation for kills per set and ranked in the top 25 for hitting percentage.
She is quick to point out that it's a true team effort when it comes to looking at statistics.
"I think it helps having good ball control," said Bateman. "I think the passing is awesome right now and makes my job a lot easier. I think the communication between the hitters and setters is always the key. Our hitters communicate to everyone how they want the ball and we communicate the feedback they give to us."
The adjustment period for Bateman had to come in quick fashion. Luckily, she was able to have the entire spring to work with the hitters and she has been able to recognize how far she has matured in a year.
"I think you don't realize how much you change or learn after a year," said Bateman. "For me, trying to come in as a freshman and playing at such a faster paced game is so different. At this point, I'm just more used to everything. The whole confidence factor has been the difference."
"As a setter, your role is essentially as the quarterback. By providing confidence for the team and support when they need it is a huge deal and I think as a setter, you have to take control when you need to do so. There is a lot more responsibility."
Part of Bateman's enjoyment in playing for the Trojans have been the ability to practice and play in the Galen Center, USC's on-campus arena that is now in its fourth year of existence.
"Just being in this facility, you feel like you understand USC and feel that you are a part of," said Bateman. "All of the support of the fans makes it that much better. It's like playing in Staples Center. A lot of college teams don't get the opportunity to play in a place like this. I think we are really lucky."
As a standout at Mira Costa High, the native of Manhattan Beach, Calif., led the Mustangs to a perfect 37-0 record in her senior season and the school's second straight mythical national championship. She was named CIF most valuable player in her senior season as Mira Costa won its fourth straight Division II state championship. She parlayed that experience into a stint with the 2009 U.S. Junior National Team, playing at the FIVB World Championship in Mexico.
Growing up in a place that has always been immersed in the sport of volleyball meant playing the game is second nature for Bateman.
"Definitely you are playing volleyball when you grow up in the South Bay and Manhattan Beach," said Bateman. "At the same time, I played other sports as well like soccer, basketball and softball. I did all the community-type sports. When I started middle school, I started focusing more on volleyball and the team aspect of things. I loved being a setter."
A key in her development was having two parents that both played collegiate athletics and a big family that's able to support her especially at matches.
"It's been huge," said Bateman. "They realized what a commitment it is. They have always been there to support me through academics and athletics. A lot of my family comes to the matches, which is really cool."
When she is away from the Galen Center, Kendall's favorite thing to do is listening to music. "I think music is a huge part of my life," said Bateman. "My grandpa plays a lot of Hawaiian music, just growing up with that. I like being alone some times and just listening to all different kinds of music. It really relaxes me."
Whether she is on or off the court, she has always been appreciative of being a part of the Trojan Family.
"Who wouldn't want to come to USC," said Bateman. "It's everything from the academics to the extracurricular activities. You just have a feeling being on campus is focused, but super relaxed at the same time. The balance between sports and academics is awesome and that the Trojan Family is a great place to be a part of. It's cool being able to branch out of the athletic community, on campus. It's great having all different types of people as your friends."
With her goals "set" in motion, Kendall Bateman is working hard to make sure USC adds another national title to its impressive history.