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 Starmount graduate Brittany Zeller and North Surry’s Morgan Hawks.
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.
Being a part of the volleyball culture at Starmount, said Zeller, “It’s great.” In her junior year, Starmount won a state championship.
As for Coach Symons, Zeller said, “He’s just a crazy coach.”
The coach fussed at her a lot her first two years in high school, but the constructive criticism paid off, she believed.
At the end of her sophomore year, Zeller received Symons’ most-improved award. As a senior the libero earned the team’s top defensive player award and made the Mountain Valley All-Conference Team.
Zeller said she decided to play at SCC because she liked Jan Marion-Kiser, but it will be a big difference after four years at Starmount.
As for her new teammates, she said she’s played against most of them and knows Hartman well. She hopes she gels with everyone because the Lady Rams were like a family to her and she’d like that again.
Asked why volleyball teams seem to be close knit, Zeller said that the game lends itself to building chemistry. The girls are close to each other physically. They must communicate during and after the point to be successful.
She said she is worried for the current team as it only has one senior with a lot of youth.
Did she play other sports in high school.
“My senior year I played softball,” she said. “It went awful.”
She said she had known the softball coach since she was in grade school and was talked into going out for the team. However, she hadn’t played softball since middle school.
Zeller said she wanted to thank Coach Symons for all his help over the years. She also thanked her mom for coming to as many games as work allowed.
As for SCC, Zeller said she liked the idea of being in a widespread conference like Region X.
The long trips to away games, she said, “That’s one thing that I’m excited about, to get away.”
Concerning classwork, Zeller said she hasn’t figured that part out yet. She knows SCC has a cosmetology program, but she’s always had a desire to attend Paul Mitchell, which has four locations in North Carolina.
North Surry’s Hawks made the Western Piedmont all-conference and all-tournament teams as a senior.
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 Morgan’s older sister 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 do it all by herself.
Jeff can be reached at 336-415-4692.