Marshall leaving her mark on DSU volleyball
Being from the tropical island of Hawaii, Kadara Marshall's first impression of Dickinson was jarring.
When she visited last December, there was a healthy helping of snow on the ground and a shiver-inducing cold front pushing through.
Nevertheless, she committed to Dickinson State.
"It was snowy when I came and it was terrible, so my first impression wasn't the greatest," the junior said with a laugh. "The volleyball girls, that was a beautiful impression. I love them. Ellie (Hanser), Kennedy (Hildebrand), they were just super awesome and friendly when I came here. The other schools I visited, it wasn't necessarily that energy and the vibe of the girls."
Marshall arrived in the new year after graduating from Western Nebraska Community College a semester early. There, she helped the Cougars to their 19th Straight Region IX championship, earning the No. 4 seed in the National Junior College Athletic Association championship.
Dickinson State head coach Jennifer Hartman heard of the excellence at Western Nebraska through Cory Fehringer, the Cougars men's basketball coach and former assistant basketball coach at DSU.
While she admitted she thought the players were out of her league, Hartman made the journey to Scottsbluff, Neb., obviously winning over Marshall.
"Since I graduated early, I didn't have a whole lot of options, but I had a few. When Coach Hartman came down, she's a sweetheart so she swayed me with her personality, first off," Marshall said. "She came down to see me. She took that seven hour drive. ... and that coach that referred her to me (Fehringer), I trust him. He's an amazing basketball coach there. I've said multiple times that I wish I was a men's basketball player so I could be his player. ... I knew if he was referring me, that's someone I could trust."
Just four games into the 2018 season, the 5-10 middle blocker is already making her presence known on the court. Behind junior Ellie Hanser who has eight blocks, Marshall has five blocks on the season. The political science major also has 14 kills, the third most on the team.
"She's the energy of the team. When she's up, everybody's up," Hartman said. "She's just really fun to watch. She's serious, but she loves to have fun. She's one of those players that stands out above the rest. As far as a person, she's so hard working, she's so dedicated and so self-motivated."
Last season at WNCC, Marshall played a similar role in the middle, earning a team-high 67 blocks, as well as 144 kills, the sixth-most among her Cougars teammates.
"I loved it so much," Marshall said. "Being a part of that program and being a part of that legacy, I wouldn't want it a different way. ... I'm so happy I did my part."
What helped seal the deal was the opportunity for Marshall to compete in track and field as well.
"That was hook, line and sinker for me," she said.
In her first season competing since her 2016 high school state championship performance in triple jump, Marshall qualified at the national level in both indoor and outdoor track. This past spring she finished 19th in triple jump with a leap of 10.86 meters. In March, at the NAIA indoor championship, she placed 16th with a jump of 11.29 meters, or 37 feet, ½ inch.
For now though, her focus in on volleyball and improving as a player.
"There's always more to learn," Marshall said. "My court sense from when I started to now has grown tremendously. Hawaii volleyball is different from this type of volleyball, there's just something about it. I've learned a lot from that and being in Nebraska. Playing with people from Puerto Rico and Germany, I learned a lot from them. Something I would work on is just building up my court sense."
Marshall left Hawaii to attend WNCC, and hopes to get back at least once a year. Thankfully, even after recent Hurricane Lane, she still has a home to return to. Despite receiving just under 50 inches between Aug. 22 and 27, according to weather.com, Hilo is still very much intact.
"I actually haven't heard a lot of coverage about the damage after Lane," Marshall said. "I've seen pictures and our downtown area, I used to play soccer as a kid, I've seen (the fields) flooded, but it was the most flooded I've ever seen it. ... Overall we were bracing for a much harsher storm so we were grateful it was just rain."
Despite starting the season 0-4 against non-conference opponents, Hartman and the Blue Hawks are hoping to step up their game, with Marshall potentially playing a large role in that.
"She just brings this whole different level of offense that we haven't had in the past," Hartman said. "She brings everybody up with her. She's a come-with-me player, that's saying, come hit with me, come set balls for me. We really enjoy that part of her for sure."