Prep volleyball: Corriher to Averett
LANDIS — South Rowan senior Lynsey Corriher was on the varsity volleyball and basketball teams as a freshman.
That means she’s been around so long she seems like an assistant coach. Still, except for having a knee brace as her prized possession, she’s basically a normal 17-year-old. She yells for the N.C. State Wolfpack, lifts weights, plays piano, listens to Miley Cyrus and tries hard to figure out the rules of soccer, her little brother Cameron’s sport.
Volleyball is Corriher’s thing now and is the sport she’ll play in college. She has made things official with Averett as her next stop, and while Division III schools can’t give athletic scholarships, they do recruit the best players they can find who also are strong students and put together packages for them to make college affordable.
Corriher’s combination of athletics and academics earned her a Presidential Scholarship at Averett. That means $14,000 or so annually. That and other academic scholarships will help get her started toward the nursing career that she’s dreamed about.
“Averett is not that far off, really,” Corriher said. “It’s right across the border in (Danville) Virginia. It’s a small school, but it’s the place that felt most like home. I had thought for a long time that UNC Wilmington was where I wanted to go, but when we went there, it was too big. I felt lost.”
Corriher’s athletic career got off to a swift start in the late summer of 2010 when she was a freshman. South volleyball coach Jan Dowling was a relative, and Lynsey knew she wanted to play for her, even though she’d never really competed in organized volleyball. She’d been basketball 24/7 up to that point.
“Growing up I’d always thought I’d be a college basketball player, but I was kind of iffy about how good I’d be at volleyball,” Corriher said. “But I wanted to try it. I’m glad I did.”
Dowling kept her on the varsity that first season.
“She was a very natural volleyball player,” Dowling said.
By her sophomore season, Corriher was all-county in volleyball and also was playing volleyball with a Junior Olympic program. She was making progess in basketball too. After a get-your-feet-wet freshman year, she started as a sophomore. She scored 16 against East Rowan and 17 against North Rowan and averaged 6.5 points per game.
If her life had been roses and rainbows up that point, things got a lot more challenging Corriher’s junior year. She tore an ACL early in the basketball season. Hoops was over, and she faced a tedious rehab process just to try to salvage her senior volleyball season.
“It was a life-changing injury and surgery,” Corriher said. “To have to sit and watch my teammates play and not being able to help them all those months and watching everyone else improve while I couldn’t practice or play was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
She did make it back for her senior volleyball season. She was on the floor opening day in August, less than eight months removed from surgery.
“It was like learning to walk all over again.” Corriher said. “But I made it.”
She also made all-county, and it wasn’t a sympathy vote. She led South in a lot of games and had 15 kills in the final game of her career against East Rowan.
“Coming off the injury, she’d lost some vertical and some movement, but there was never any doubt she was going to give us everything she had,” Dowling said. “She was team captain and team MVP, and I’ll always remember her last game because it was her best one.”
Corriher’s senior basketball season was equally rewarding. She averaged 7.3 points, third on the team, and helped the Raiders go 18-10, their best season in this century.
“She’s been in this gym since she was 5 years old,” South basketball coach Jarrod Smith said. “So it was great to see Lynsey go out on a high note. When she got hurt her junior year, we couldn’t replace her inside defense, her rebounding and her leadership. But she came back this year, as our only senior, and she was a huge part of all that we accomplished.”
By basketball season, Corriher was healthier than she’d been for volleyball and was moving quicker and more instictively.
“The first few times I fell to the floor in basketball, I’d see my grandmother grab my grandpa by the arm, and I know how they felt,” Corriher said. “But you can’t play scared even when it hurts, and I always got back up. I gradually got over the mental part of the injury, and that was the toughest part. We’d set a goal before the season of making the playoffs, so I can’t tell you how much fun it was to be playing in the third round. Basketball season gave me my confidence back.”
All the physical therapy that went into getting back on both courts also made it clear to Corriher that she wanted to keep playing sports in college. There was a hole in her life without sports.
There’s not a brisk market for 5-foot-9 post players, so her best option was volleyball.
And she had a friend in the right place.
South graduate Nicole Barringer has been a standout player for Averett for three seasons and was a first team All-USA South Conference setter last fall. Barringer was Corriher’s teammate in basketball and volleyball at South when Barringer was a senior and Corriher was a freshman.
“I texted Nicole and asked her about the possibility of playing there, and she’s been a great help,” Corriher said. “The coach started emailing me and we were able to set up a visit and tryout.”
Head coach Danny Miller, who has been on the job 19 years, has built Averett into a small-school power. The Cougars went 27-9 in 2013 and won 17 of 19 USA South games. Barringer has been a big part of that success, and Corriher could help extend Averett’s run as a right-side hitter.
“We had two South girls playing together at Lenoir-Rhyne this year (Kayla Morrow and Emma Pope),” Dowling said. “I think it’s great for South volleyball that we’ll have two at Averett next season.”
Meanwhile, Corriher is still getting better — physically and psychologically.
“I went up to Averett on March 1, Nicole gave me a tour and introduced me to everyone, and I got to play with a lot of the girls,” Corriher said. “I was amazed at how much stiffness had left my knee since high school volleyball. I was doing things I couldn’t do in the fall, and I fell in love with volleyball all over again.”