Faith Rottinghaus will go down in history as one of the all-time best in Washburn University's proud volleyball history, earning All-American honors and playing for a national title with the Ichabods.

TaylorRottinghaus2023 2Former Shawnee Heights multi-sport standout Taylor Rottinghaus has made a major contribution as a freshman for Washburn volleyball, which opens MIAA play Friday and Saturday at Lee Arena. [Photo by Rick Peterson/TSN]

TaylorRottinghaus2023Freshman Taylor Rottinghaus has played in all seven matches for 6-1 Washburn, leading the Ichabods with 80 digs and adding 15 assists. [Photo by Rick Peterson/TSN]

But just a few matches into her freshman season, Faith's younger sister Taylor is well on her way to carving out her own niche at Washburn.

Both Faith and Taylor were three-sport standouts at Shawnee Heights and the two both play the same position, defensive specialist/libero, in volleball.

That makes comparisons between the sisters inevitable, but WU coach Chris Herron said he does his best to avoid such talk.

"I've got to be honest with you, it would be unfair to anybody,'' Herron said. "We never try to compare kids but everybody's going to do that because her sister was not just good, she was great, and going to be a Hall of Fame player.

"But this kid's as athletic or more athletic than any libero we've ever had. She can go get balls, she's ridiculously fast and she's fearless. I don't want to (compare) because she's her own athlete, but she's just as good an athlete as Faith and that's saying something.''

Taylor Rottinghaus said she appreciates her coaches and others involved with Washburn volleyball letting her find her own way.

"They've done a really good job,'' Taylor said. "They talk to me about (Faith) in a different aspect. They'll check up on her and everything but when it's on the court it's Taylor Rottinghaus, it's not Faith Rottinghaus.

"That's really nice because I went to the same high school as her and it was always Faith's little sister, and coming here I was expecting it to be Faith's little sister or Faith's mini-me, but they've done a really good job of making it Taylor Rottinghaus.''

Faith Rottinghaus was on hand to cheer on Taylor and the Ichabods in last week's Washburn Invitational and Taylor said her older sister has been very supportive without getting in the way. 

"She's great with that,'' Taylor said. "She lets me live my own life and I love that. I know she wants me to do really good here and follow in her footsteps, but she knows that I have a great coaching staff and some great teammates, so she's just letting me do my own thing.''

Taylor said her comfort level at Washburn has been boosted by the fact she's been around the Ichabod program for a big part of her life. 

"I went to a lot of my older sister Faith's matches here at Washburn and we would travel, we would do it all and then I would even participate in the camps here during the summer so I've been involved with Washburn forever it feels like,'' Rottinghaus said.

Rottinghaus also came into the program with the benefit of being familiar with Herron and how he runs things.

"I definitely learned how coach works,'' she said. "I've been watching him coach for a while now, so I was ready for everything that he does. I was ready for it, so that definitely helped, I believe, coming in as a freshman.''

Rottinghaus has already taken on a major role for the No. 15 nationally-ranked Ichabods while sharing DS/libero duties with another city product, Seaman junior Maddie Steiner.

Rottinghaus said she has been pleasantly surprised to be playing as much as she has so early in her career.

"I was definitely surprised to say the least, but I had been working for it and I love Maddie,'' Rottinghaus said. "I love her so much and she has definitely helped me flourish in this spot.

"She gives me tips, she gives me pointers, and she wants our team to succeed, which is definitely helpful and when (Herron) mixes it up and she's the libero I always help her out, too. We are definitely just doing everything for the team right now which is really great.''

Rottinghaus was also a basketball and track and field standout (sprints) at Shawnee Heights and said she feels like her background has helped her at WU.

"Being a multi-sport athlete before coming here has helped me just become more athletic,'' she said. "I feel that I'm not afraid to do things that other girls might potentially be afraid of as in throwing my body on the ground. I'm used to that with basketball and volleyball in the past and then participating in track the last four years of my life I've gained some quick speed and it just helps me on the court get to balls faster, ad it definitely helps with my endurance on the court.''

While happy with her start to her college career, Rottinghaus, who leads the Ichabods with 80 digs, said her goal now is to continue to improve.

"I feel like I'm doing pretty well,'' she said. "The team makes it so easy to adjust. I feel like I definitely have room to improve, but I've already improved so much by being here for three weeks now.''

Washburn, 6-1 on the season, opens MIAA play at Lee Arena this weekend, hosting Nebraska-Kearney on Friday night and Fort Hays State on Saturday in 6 p.m. matches.

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