The 2015 season was one to remember for the Mount Airy volleyball team, which got the better of longtime 1A power Bishop McGuinness and defending East Regional champion East Surry to win the Northwest Conference title outright.
One of the lasting memories of the Lady Bears’ 21-6 season, and one that stuck out in the mind of Surry Community College head coach Jan Marion-Kiser, was of senior Katie Hicks stepping up her game at the net when her team needed it, ending the season with 110 blocks, 51 of them unassisted, to lead her team in both categories by a substantial margin.
“She’s super strong. I love her vertical,” said Marion-Kiser. “She has a great block, and she’s very athletic.”
The coach had her eye set on adding the 5’9” middle hitter to her team for next season, and on Monday afternoon, Hicks said yes, signing her letter of intent to play for the Lady Knights in the fall.
It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that Hicks and the Surry program are a perfect match. Hicks, who earned three varsity letters for the Lady Bears in volleyball and was also an important part of the school’s softball program, very much wanted to continue playing her favorite sport after graduating. On top of that, she’s already a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), and SCC can offer her not only volleyball, but also an associate’s degree in nursing.
“We started talking about me playing for Surry this past year,” said Hicks. “(Coach Marion-Kiser) came to a few of our games and told me that she liked what she saw.”
Hicks, who carries a perfect 4.0 GPA in the classroom, had found a good fit both academically and athletically.
“I want to go into the nursing program at Surry, get my associate’s, and then transfer to get my bachelor’s at a four-year school,” she said, adding that she’s undecided about whether she will attempt to play two more years of college volleyball at her next stop after Surry.
Marion-Kiser is just grateful for the two years that she will have Hicks to complement her large contingent of local prep stars already on the roster.
“We’re expecting her to play a big role as far as offensive hitting,” she said. “As far as what we’ve lost this year in terms of sophomores who have graduated, she’s going fill a huge role.”
Hicks said that the highlight of her career with the Lady Bears was capturing the conference title this past season.
“We were like a big family and I loved that,” she said. “Winning the conference championship and also beating North Surry was pretty exciting.”
At Surry, she will be a teammate of several players who were big on-court rivals for years, and she’s looking forward to having them as teammates rather than opponents.
“It will be fun to play with them,” she said. “It’s not like we have rivalries outside of volleyball; it’s just on the court. That is how it should be, and it made it fun.”
Hicks began playing volleyball in the eighth grade, and said she already knew she wanted to play beyond high school by the time she began playing at MAHS. She credited her grandmother Edith Hicks, who passed away last June at age 91, as her inspiration.
“She was a big basketball star here in her day, and she always pushed me to be my best,” Katie said. “This day is for her.”
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.