DOBSON — For Surry Community College volleyball coach Jan Marion-Kiser, last week’s Sophomore Night was a special evening nearly 10 years in the making.
Prior to the Knights’ three-set victory over USC-Lancaster, Surry recognized its two sophomores – East Surry graduates Jessi Marion and Cheyenne Kota. Both have played under Marion-Kiser’s guidance in some form or fashion for most of their playing careers dating back to the sixth grade.
“These two girls have played with me since the sixth grade when I was their Junior Olympics coach. They were with me five years playing Junior Olympic volleyball and then they played two years under another coach and then both came to Surry to play for me again,” Marion-Kiser said. “To have them for five years and then to get them back, it is just amazing to see the type of players they have grown into. I have had them longer than anybody I have coached, so it was a little different feel for Sophomore Night. It was special.”
The Knights won the opening set 25-17 after freshman Ashley Johnson broke a 9-9 tie with four consecutive points serving. USC-Lancaster would get no closer the rest of the set, which saw Marion record two service aces and three kills, McKenzie Wood dish out eight assists and Shay Vick throw down four kills.
After falling behind 1-0 in the second set, the Knights never trailed again as Saleena Call reeled off four straight service points in a 25-13 win. Kota had two service aces in the match and Marion added three more kills.
With the score tied at 18-all in the third and final set, Surry finished USC-Lancaster off with a 7-0 run behind the serving of Anika Thomas. Marion had four kills in the set and Kota added two.
Marion led the Knights on Sophomore Night with 10 kills, while she and Kota both finished with two service aces. Marion paced Surry with four blocks and Kota contributed two to go along with five digs. Wood finished with a game-high 30 assists and Thomas led the team with 12 digs.
“Tonight was all about our two outstanding sophomores, Cheyenne Kota and Jessi Marion,” said Marion-Kiser. “Both of these young ladies have meant so much to our program over the past two years. While they are both outstanding volleyball players, I am even more proud of their accomplishments off the court. Both are outstanding students with Cheyenne being named as a Surry Community College Student Ambassador this fall, and Jessi earning NJCAA All-Academic honors this past summer. It has been a privilege to coach them at Surry the past two years.”
The Surry coach said both players have bright futures ahead. Both Marion and Kota have been garnering interest from several four-year institutions.
“Coaches are emailing me asking about their plans after college. They are now getting some offers to play after Surry and that makes me so happy because these are two girls that can definitely do that and be successful not only on the court, but in classroom,” Marion-Kiser said.
With the win, the Knights improved to 11-3 in Region X Conference play. Surry is 17-8 overall after defeating NCAA Division III schools Randolph College and Salem College on Saturday.
Surry wrapped up the regular season by hosting USC-Salkehatchie on Tuesday, November 1 at 5 p.m. The Knights will travel to Wake Technical Community College for the Region X Volleyball Tournament held on November 4-5.
“Hopefully, we can continue to build some momentum as we finish up the regular season and head to the Region X tournament. We would certainly like to be playing our best volleyball at the tournament,” said Marion-Kiser.