Sophomore walk-on Palladino contributes to Texas’ success

Claire Cruz

Despite having top recruiting classes every year, not all the players for No. 5 Texas are big-name recruits. Fans are familiar with All-Big 12 players such as Amy Neal, Chiaka Ogbogu and Molly McCage. But they don’t tell the whole story of the Texas program.

“Our team is a unit,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “It’s not just one or two star players. Everyone has their role and fills it to the best of their ability. They play well together, they feed off each other and they make each other better.”

One unheralded player is sophomore libero Kate Palladino. In her two seasons at Texas, she has played in just five matches, but she isn’t defined by her walk-on role.

“I really don’t focus on the walk-on part of it,” Palladino said. “It’s been a great experience, and we’re all working toward the same goal. My position is really deep, and my role is to challenge the starters.”

Palladino is from Pflugerville, Texas, just 17 miles north of Austin. She watched Longhorn volleyball growing up. But her journey to Texas wasn’t easy.

Palladino’s high school ranking left her just outside the automatic admission quota. As a walk-on, she didn’t receive a scholarship to Texas. She chose to attend her backup school, Texas A&M, for a year before transferring to Texas.

“I was afraid of what the coaches would say,” Palladino said. “But they told me they still wanted me, and they would check up on me all the time. It was great knowing they still cared.”

Although she isn’t in the spotlight, Palladino is glad she came to Texas.

“I grew up watching Texas, and I would have regretted not taking this opportunity,” Palladino said. “Having any part on this team is really great.”

Texas has just three regular season games on its schedule. The Longhorns face Baylor on Wednesday night at Gregory Gym with hopes of staying atop the Big 12.

“Baylor’s looking up and trying to make it in the tournament,” Elliott said. “They need a signature win, so they’re going to come in and play hard. We’ll need to be focused, consistent and do what we do.”