DOBSON — Surry Community College added two new recruits to its volleyball team for this fall.
At a press announcement Monday evening, SCC head coach Jan Marion-Kiser introduced North Surry graduate Morgan Hawks and Starmount’s Brittany Zeller.
That brings the current roster to four sophomores and five incoming freshmen. Marion-Kiser said she would like to add a couple more, but SCC won a Region X championship with only nine in 2011.
“Morgan is going to come in and set for me. She’s been running the offense at North Surry,” said the coach.
“She’s got great hands, she reads the court well, she feeds the right hitter at the right time,” she said of Hawks.
“Brittany was a libero at Starmount. She’s going to come in and play a D.S. position (defensive specialist) for us, so we’ll have a really tight back row.”
Two of the returning players are libero Cassidy Palmer, a West Stokes grad who earned the team’s best defensive player award, and Haley Hartman, Starmount, who was team MVP and made the all-Region X team.
Zeller will fit right in, especially since she used to play with Hartman at Starmount.
“Her passing is really good, she’s quick on defense,” she said of Zeller. “That’ll help us because this year I want to run a more up-tempo kind of game.”
Of Hawks and Zeller, she said, “Two key players we needed to round out the roster.”
The Lady Knights already landed a whole front line of hitters from East Surry.
Cheyenne Kota is a lefty who can hit from the right side. Kacie Markle was Northwest Conference player of the year as an outside hitter on the left. Jessi Marion can hit and defend in the middle. All three were all-conference selections.
Also on the team is Surry Central sophomore who can set or play hitter on the right side. Sydney Shelton, South Stokes, will be the starting middle hitter. Sydney earned the coach’s award at the spring banquet.
This is a team of girls where everybody can play, the coach said. One of the college’s strongest rosters overall in talent.
Those four returning players hate to lose, and these five freshmen come from programs that seldom lost, so this squad will be one that competes hard every time out, she said.
Helping Marion-Kiser is Emily Roberts in her fifth year as assistant coach. The Forbush graduate played for Marion-Kiser until suffering a back injury. She recently completed the physical therapy program at SCC, so she can serve as the team’s trainer, too.
The coach said she doesn’t have a team manager yet, but would love to have a knowledgeable volleyball person in that role.
“This year is probably the most home games I’ve had in a while,” said the coach. And since the college doesn’t charge admission for volleyball matches, she hopes that some of the great fan support from the local high schools follows the players to SCC.
“Starmount has a great atmosphere. Honestly, that’s a great place to watch a volleyball game. East Surry, the past four years has been an awesome place to go. North Surry’s never been a shabby place to watch a game.”
Coaches Jon Symons (Starmount), Caleb Gilley (East Surry) and Shane Slate (North Surry) are quality coaches who have competed for state titles. Their girls are very well coached. coached the East trio in Junior Olympic volleyball a few years ago.
In announcing her choice of SCC, Hawks said she wanted to thank Coach Slate for four years of instruction and helping her grow. She also thanked Coach Marion-Kiser for giving her a chance to play on a college team.
Morgan started playing sports at four years of age, said her dad Mike Hawks. She played basketball, fast-pitch softball and volleyball in elementary school.
She joined the varsity team for basketball as a sophomore, then joined the volleyball team as a junior.
Over the past six years, she also played for the Surry Storm basketball and volleyball teams, her dad said. She put in every bit as much effort and time as a kid going off to play Division I, so he and his wife Emily couldn’t be more proud.
“She was a great student in high school and a pretty good athlete,” he said. “She has done well for herself.”
When most kids are still sleeping on Saturday mornings, Morgan would be getting up to head off somewhere for a AAU or J.O. tournament like Fayetteville, Charlotte, Salisbury, he noted.
For her senior year, Morgan decided to drop basketball and focus on volleyball, school and being editor of the school yearbook. She also was a member of the National Honor Society and graduated cum laude.
She was still there for every basketball game to cheer on her younger siblings: Maggie, a rising junior, and Mason, a rising junior.
She said she will be back at North again this winter to cheer them on.
As for volleyball, Hawks made the Western Piedmont all-conference and all-tournament teams as a senior.
She said she grew up watching first an older cousin and then her older sister Maddison play volleyball.
In her first two years at North, Morgan was the setter for the JV team. Near the end of that 10th grade year, Slate brought up a few JV players to the varsity level so they could get some experience with better competition.
It was during this time that North Surry went on a roll and won the state championship with Maddison as one of three senior captains.
Asked what she loves about volleyball, Morgan said she likes how volleyball includes everyone. In a basketball game, she could grab a rebound and rush up the floor and score, but in volleyball one person can’t score all by herself.
She said she loves playing the setter position best and is happy that Marion-Kiser is giving her a chance to win that job.
Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.