By Steve Carpenter
Hutchinson CC Sports Information Director
Katie Jorn's favorite movie is the classic "Remember The Titans."
Two lines from Coach Herman Boone – played by Denzel Washington – embody Hutchinson's Community College's sophomore setter from Derby.
Line 1 – Boone talking to Ronnie "Sunshine" Bass after "Rev" Harris was injured in a game: "You are the quarterback! You are going to lead your team!"
Line 2 – Boone talking to his team before the first game of the season: "The Titans ruled their universe with absolute power."
Jorn has been the Blue Dragons' quarterback for two seasons as the No. 1 setter. With her calm and calculated demeanor, she is ruling the volleyball court with absolute power.
Jorn and the Blue Dragons will play Iowa Western in the opening round of the NJCAA Division I Volleyball Championship at 11 a.m. on Thursday at the Sports Arena.
"Whatever you do as a setter sets the mood for the team," Jorn said on Wednesday after the Blue Dragons' pre-tournament workout. "It's fun to watch all of my hitters be really successful and see them get all this attention. It feels good knowing that I was part of that."
Jorn has quietly emerged as one of the top setters in the Jayhawk Conference this season, earning first-team All-Jayhawk West And first-team all-Region VI selection.
Blue Dragon head coach Patrick Hall said that Jorn's progression has flown under the radar. But that's no indication of how well she has played this season and her importance to the 2017 Blue Dragons.
"Katie is somebody who a coach can really rely on to make terrific decisions," Hall said. "One of Katie's greatest assets is her decision-making out on the floor. She understands the game. She understands our side of the net and she understands the other side of the net really well."
For nearly all of Jorn's freshman season at Hutchinson, she paired with Nicole Rutherford in a 6-2 offense.
This season, the Blue Dragons started in a 6-2, but a switch to a 5-1 – which meant Jorn would be a front-row player in 3 of the 6 rotations – against Salt Lake created a spark in the team. Jorn had career-high 31 assists and a double-double with 11 digs in a sweep of the fourth-ranked team in the nation.
Staying with the 5-1 at the Midwest Superstore Blue Dragon Classic a few weeks later, Jorn had 34 assists in a sweep of No. 6 Indian Hills and then posted a career-best 52 assists in a thrilling five-set loss to No. 2 Iowa Western one day later. She was named the Jayhawk West Setter of the week for that performance.
"It's great to have someone on the court you never half to worry about," Hall said. "It's been really fun to watch her development. We always thought she had a lot of potential. She worked really hard on the stuff that she needed to improve on."
Growing up, Jorn was labeled to be a libero. But her Derby coaches saw something different – a natural setter.
Jorn made the switch and was a four-year starter for Derby head coach Shelby Kraus. Jorn still owns the Derby volleyball career record for assists and service aces. She was a three-time AVCTL-Division I All-Conference Player and earned Class 6A All-State honorable mention honors in her senior season of 2015.
"At first I switched to setter because I really wanted to be on varsity," Jorn said. "My coach told me I was good enough to play setter, so I did and now I love it."
Now at Hutchinson, Jorn has climbed the Blue Dragon career charts. With 1,625 assists entering the national tournament, Jorn is fifth on the career chart for assists. Her 6.81 assists per set ranks No. 9. Her 1,071 assists this season is the seventh-best season in Blue Dragon history for a setter.
Now her final year at Hutchinson will come to a conclusion on her home floor in the national tournament. Getting to this moment wasn't easy for Jorn and her teammates.
One year ago, Jorn watched Seward County celebrate on the Sports Arena floor after defeating the Dragons in four sets to win Region VI. On November 5, Jorn and the Dragons returned the favor in a scintillating 25-23, 26-24, 30-28 victory in the regional finals over Seward County on the Saints home floor. Jorn was masterful with 32 assists and 12 digs.
"We kept (last year) in our minds when we played in the regional final out there," Jorn said. "We just came out firing. We had nothing to lose. There was no point not to leave everything out on the floor. It felt really, really good to give that back to them. "
Unknown where she will go next season, Jorn will play volleyball. She is a pre-veterinary major.