Kaylee Freed played an important role on North Surry volleyball teams that won 46 matches and two Western Piedmont Athletic Conference titles the past two seasons, but expected her sports career would end when she graduated.
Freed, a member of the Lady Greyhounds’ softball and volleyball teams the past few years, had always hoped for a chance to play the latter sport at the next level, but said she never expected to get the chance to do so until well after her senior season had ended.
“I am excited about the opportunity,” said the 5’9” middle hitter and opposite hitter, who signed a letter of intent to play for Pfeiffer University in a ceremony at the school last Wednesday. “I didn’t think it was a possibility until this year. It wasn’t until club season in February that anyone expressed interest in me. The first school that approached me was North Carolina Wesleyan.”
However, the interest from the Battling Bishops in Freed, who had 153 kills and 81 blocks for North Surry during the 2016 season, proved to be just the start. Before long, she had invitations from Ferrum College, Methodist University, Pfeiffer, and Surry Community College as well. She ended up choosing Pfeiffer.
“It came down to which school I felt more at home at, and I felt the most at home at Pfeiffer,” she said. “When it came time to make the decision, it was between Methodist University and Pfeiffer, and I chose Pfeiffer.”
All of her suitors except for Surry are members of the NCAA Division III USA South Conference for volleyball, The Falcons were transitioning from Division II to Division III during the 2016 season and had a poor year, but hope to get back on track starting this fall.
Freed said that there were no promises made to her in the way of playing time. However, as a newcomer on a struggling program, there are always opportunities for any newcomer who can help a team win.
She earned spots on the varsity softball and volleyball teams starting in her junior year, but got into just 19 sets on the volleyball court that season. Her hard work on and off the court paid off between her junior and senior seasons, and in 2016, she not only earned a spot in the North Surry starting six, but was one of four Lady Hounds who led the team by playing in 97 sets.
Even though Freed was far from the team’s tallest player, she was second on the Lady Hounds in blocks, and had a career-high 10 in the conference tournament final against West Stokes, where she had arguably the finest match of her high school career, with nine kills and four digs, and only two errors of any kind the entire match.
She said that it really hit her that their time together was nearing an end last Oct. 13, when the team held Senior High before the regular-season finale against Forbush. While this wasn’t the team’s last match together or even its last home match, Freed and her fellow seniors knew their careers were soon to end.
“The thing that meant the most to me was being able to play together with the same group of girls ever since the seventh grade,” she said. “Making it as far as we did this past season was great. We’d never made that far before.”
North beat Forbush that night and prevented the Lady Falcons from stealing a share of the conference title, then won two more matches to take the league tournament crown, including the memorable five-setter in the tournament finals to top West Stokes. North Surry needed every bit of Freed’s strong performance that night to overcome an inspired Lady Wildcat team that had won two of the first three sets.
In the state playoffs, North Surry beat East Rutherford, Mountain Heritage and won at North Wilkes to set up a regional semifinal match at then-unbeaten Wheatmore. The Lady Hounds lost this one in four sets to end their season.
Freed, however, moved on to the travel ball season and proved that her ascendancy as a senior for North Surry had been no fluke.
Pfeiffer hasn’t announced its schedule for 2017 yet, in what will be its first season in the USA South, but Freed’s dream of playing in college will be fulfilled sometime in early September.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.