(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
After breaking her foot three times while at BYU, Kiana Rogers will finish her fifth and last season, leaving everything on the volleyball court.
The five-foot-11 senior setter hails from Placerville, Calif., and never thought that she’d end up a Cougar. Her father, Doug, played football for Stanford and her mother, Jana, was recruited to play volleyball for Cal Poly – and encouraged Rogers to play volleyball for one of those schools.
“I kind of wanted to go to BYU, but I didn’t have the Cougar background, none of my family members went to BYU,” Rogers said. “Karen Lamb was the coach at the time and didn’t seem very interested in recruiting me. I was looking at Cal Poly and Stanford, but when Jason Watson became the head coach, he offered me a full-ride scholarship. I thought to myself, ‘What? BYU? I guess I’ll come for a visit.’”
At the end of her sophomore year of high school, Rogers came to BYU for a visit and immediately fell in love with the girls on the team, as well as Coach Watson. Although she still didn’t agree to play for the Cougars during that visit, Rogers knew that everything about BYU felt right. After a couple weeks back at home, she called Watson and said, “I’d love to be a Cougar”, came for an official visit later and signed a letter of intent on the spot.
Although coming to BYU was something Rogers never considered, she was happy when she visited the school and she has been happy ever since.
“Coming to BYU just felt right,” said Rogers. “I have had no regrets. This place is so different. Volleyball here is amazing, but the education, the standards, and the people here make it all worth it.”
However, shortly after coming to BYU, an injury from her freshman year of high school flared up again, causing a stress fracture in her foot during practice, Rogers having to redshirt her freshman year.
“My foot has been a huge thing my whole career,” said Rogers. “Once my foot healed after my first year at BYU, the next year I played and broke it again. It healed again and broke again so I eventually had surgery after my sophomore year.”
Being out for eight months, Rogers had a tough time getting back into shape, but she was glad that the coaches trusted in her to take care of herself to come back the next season.
“She had a lot of fear at the beginning because the navicular bone that she broke can end careers,” said Roger’s mother, Jana. “But her physician gave her a lot of confidence to help her have the strength to get through the healing process. She is a remarkable young lady. I totally respect her because when adversity comes in her life, she is super obedient to do what she needs to get better.”
Shortly after having a screw placed in her foot to help her heal completely, Rogers traveled with the volleyball team to Argentina. On crutches, scooters and the shoulders of teammates and the late trainer, Gaye Merrill, Rogers kept weight off her foot.
Rogers’ foot healed perfectly and it hasn’t given her any trouble since. During last season, she played in all 29 matches and served as the starting setter, tallying 1,017 assists on the season. She led the team with 9.50 assists per set and was third on the team in total blocks (92) and digs (228).
But after having so much trouble with her foot, Rogers had another scary injury occur last spring.
“I was touching lines and I fell down and couldn’t get up for two weeks,” said Rogers. “I couldn’t walk. I herniated two discs and had a bulging disk. It was the worst pain I have ever experienced. I couldn’t move, I just had to lie there for two weeks.”
While her back still bothers her for her senior season, Rogers is ready to compete to the best of her ability and leave no regrets.
“This is my fifth year, so it’s my super-senior season and I’ve had a lot of time to think about what goals I want to accomplish,” Rogers said. “I’ve seen a lot of seniors pass and they all tell me the same thing—have no regrets. I don’t want to look back and say, ‘I wish I would’ve done this or that...’ so I will make sure to have no regrets. I am going to do everything I can to have a fulfilling, fun, exciting, but great season.”
Rogers looks to start her third season, but up-and-coming sophomore setter Heather Hannemann is challenging her to be her best.
“I love how Heather and I have this natural competition between us,” said Rogers. “We have such a good relationship that it’s never the bad competitive spirit where we’re trying to tear each other down. I push her and I help her to be better and she helps me as well. We are on the same team and no matter what happens in the end, whoever plays, it doesn’t matter – they deserve it. We make each other better.”
“Kiana’s speed and locations have improved a great deal,” BYU head coach Shay Goulding said. “Her setting during the end of last year and this spring is the best setting I’ve seen since I have known her. She is excited and ready to lead her team in her last season.”
The seasoned setter has always enjoyed competition and remembers two great moments she experienced while a Cougar.
During her redshirt freshman year in 2007, the team made it to the elite eight in the NCAA Tournament after beating Washington at home in five games. “We were expected to lose that game, so it was so awesome to beat them and advance us to the elite eight,” Rogers said.
In 2006, she remembers how No. 4 Stanford came to the Smith Fieldhouse and BYU beat them in four, pounding the school she was contemplating attending 30-16 in the last set. “They had all these amazing players that went on to compete in the Olympics, but we came out strong and got them down,” she said.
With many memories during her five years at BYU, Rogers wants to make 2010 her best season yet.
“We have a lot of good girls on our team that if we get it in our head that we can beat the hard teams, we can do it,” Rogers said. “There is always a chance to beat a really good team.”
Rogers looks forward to helping her team defend the Fieldhouse, be conference champions, beat Utah, and make it to the NCAA Tournament in her senior campaign.
“I am very happy where we are right now,” Rogers said before the season started. “We are already starting off at a high level – a higher level than we started last year. It’s going to be a great season – we have some great girls. It’s exciting because we could go very far this year.”
Excited for how the season will end up, Rogers will not only miss playing volleyball for the Cougars, but she will miss how the gospel is associated with everything at BYU.
“My favorite thing about BYU is the morals and the standards and how the spirit and the gospel is associated with everything,” said Rogers. “I love how, in a class, we open with a prayer and we intertwine subjects like math with the gospel. There isn’t any other place where you can be yourself, because at other colleges I feel like you can’t share the gospel – you can’t be based around that. This place is open and you’re expected to be open with your beliefs. I have made the best friends here, especially my teammates. They will be my lifelong friends in any situation.”
Rogers walked in the graduation line last Spring and is taking one statistics class and other fun classes to finish up her education in public health with a minor in communications in December.
She hopes to use her degree in finding a job in the advertising and marketing aspect of health fairs or health promotion. After finishing in December, Rogers wants to travel the globe.
“I need a semester off of school,” said Rogers. “I am saving for a backpacking trip to Europe with one of my friends, then I hope to look around for a job and decide whether I want to go to grad school or not. I still want to experience life more, but there are lots of options out there.”
As the senior starting setter, Rogers is ready to take on the challenge of leading her troops this season and coming out victorious, and without a broken foot.