Katie Hess officially began her transition from a six-rotation standout on the court to a future Division I beach volleyball student-athlete with the signing of a National Letter of Intent to Grand Canyon University.

After back to back seasons garnering District 10-5A first-team honors and leading the Red Oak Lady Hawks into the fourth round of the 5A playoffs, Hess dotted her "i" and crossed her "t" Wednesday, Nov. 15.

The 5-foot-11 senior appeared in 257 sets, racking up 813 kills at a .256 clip with 597 digs, 90 blocks and 77 aces over the last two seasons.

Hess recorded double-digit kills in 25 of the Lady Hawks' 42 matches this season, including a season-high 19 kills Aug. 29 against North Crowley and Aug. 14 against then-state-ranked Grapevine. Her 436 kills this season were good enough for third in District 10-5A behind Texas A&M pledge Sydney Little (545) and Nebraska commit Capri Davis (507).

She said it is her intensity and passion for the game that led to the decision to sign with GCU and join the beach volleyball team.

“I think it is definitely a self-driven sport,” said Hess, who began playing the sport alongside fellow Lady Hawk senior, Kylie Bryan. “I think definitely my intensity, character, and personality on the beach brings something that no one else has really seen since it is such a new sport.”

“[…] It’s just so new and growing that anything could happen and the path it could take you on further down the road really drove my decision.”

Hess added she is excited to join the Antelopes this fall in Phoenix, Arizona.

“They were the first school to really talk to me for beach. I got more offers later on, but they were the first. The atmosphere there is so crazy because they are renowned for their spirit and how intense it is. The attendance is insane, too,” Hess explained.

She also pointed to the newly constructed stadium and the late Joe Rohr, an assistant coach for the Lopes who passed away earlier this year, were also big selling points on the decision to join GCU.

“He was a really, really big reason why I chose. The coaching style there was incomparable to any of the other schools. Those three main reasons and, I mean, I just love it.”

Hess said she would miss the atmosphere inside the Red Oak gymnasium. She also encourages the younger Lady Hawks to “stick with it and don’t give up. Everyone is going through the same thing you are going through. Just stick with it.”