DOBSON — Surry Community College volleyball coach Jan Marion-Kiser didn’t have to make much of a sales pitch to add her latest recruit for the upcoming season.
Elkin High School’s Kenly Burchette already had a positive impression of the Lady Knights’ program, dating back to before she was in high school, and when the coach came calling this year, the four-year varsity standout was ready to listen.
“My cousin Megan Stanley played for Surry when I was younger, and I always liked watching her play,” said Burchette, who signed with the Lady Knights during a ceremony at SCC on Tuesday afternoon. “I just liked the idea of playing here, and I know a lot of the girls who have already signed. They weren’t strangers to me.”
Burchette, who also played basketball and soccer, and ran track for the Buckin’ Elks, took up volleyball during the seventh grade. She always had the idea that she might like to play a sport at the collegiate level, but didn’t set her heart on volleyball until she was a couple of years into high school.
“When I was younger, I loved basketball more than anything else, but as I got older, that kind of changed,” she recalled. “In my sophomore year, we went to the Wake Forest volleyball camp and they started talking about everything and I just started really liking it, and I decided that would be a better route than basketball.”
Even though Elkin was a much stronger team in basketball than it was in volleyball for most of her time at the school, Burchette came to enjoy the latter sport more.
“Once I got to the high school level, I liked the competition in volleyball better than in basketball,” she said.
As her high school volleyball career wound down, she already knew she liked Surry, and it turned out that the interest was mutual. Marion-Kiser was losing several key players, especially on her front line, and Burchette was one of a number of local players that she thought could help fill the void.
“I’m really existed about having Kenly,” the coach said. “I’m expecting her to be one of our outside hitters for the upcoming season. She’s strong, very smart with the ball, and can hit either left-handed or right-handed.”
One of her teammates for the upcoming season is an old high school rival turned friend, Burchette said.
“Me and (former East Surry star) Jessi Marion hated each other in high school,” she said. “We would kill each other in basketball, but we got to know each other and we’re really close now.” There’s a good chance that the two will often be lined up side by side at the net this fall.
“Kenly gives us some versatility with our hitting on the front row,” said Marion-Kiser. “I’m expecting her to contribute a lot of as freshman and help us at the outside spot.”
Burchette said she might want to continue her playing career at a four-year school after playing two years at Surry, but that would depend on who was interested, and if they offered her projected major of speech pathology.
“Depending on what colleges offer me, I might,” she said. “Right now, I’m so ready to graduate and play sports somewhere besides high school.”
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.