Prep Volleyball: Morrow commits to Lenoir-Rhyne

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 13, 2009

By Mike London
LANDIS ó Life is good when being crowned South Rowan homecoming queen is only your second-best moment in a span of 72 hours.
Welcome to Kayla Morrow’s world.
The biggest recent moment for Morrow, a springy, 5-foot-10 senior, came when she verbally committed to join Lenoir-Rhyne’s volleyball program. She plans to sign in November.
“Lenoir-Rhyne wanted me to commit two weeks earlier than I actually did, but I asked them to let me think about it just a little more,” Morrow said. “College is such a huge decision, but I believe I’ve made the right one. Sports are what I do and who I am, and I think I’ll have a chance to earn playing time right away. I wouldn’t be happy sitting on a bench somewhere.”
The L-R Bears are guided by highly successful former Davie County coach Dave Markland, who had Morrow at the top of his recruiting list from the time this season started. She’s a special player and has represented North Carolina at national-level tournaments.
“Kayla has not only the physical attributes to compete, but the willingness to compete,” South coach Jan Dowling said. “She never quits, always goes full-out, always hustles.
“Plus, she listens. She’s coachable, and you see so many young, talented athletes who aren’t coachable. Believe me, a college coach is a lot more concerned about how much better you can get than how good you are right now.”
Morrow, who had a school-record 36 kills in a match against East Rowan this season (setter Nicole Barringer set an assists record the same day), is good enough that she drew interest from Virginia Tech, UNC Greensboro and Wingate.
But the Bears offered her ideal major ó a five-year athletic training program for a masters degree ó and also produced the strongest financial package.
Morrow’s grades are a big factor. She’s in the top 10 in her class and will receive about $13,000 per year in academic scholarships. She’ll get $9,000 annually for volleyball to start off, with a chance to bump that figure upward depending on her impact on the program.
She has always been athletic, but her choice of career paths has detoured. The original dream was to play softball at North Carolina or Coastal Carolina.
“I was the travel-ball softball girl,” Morrow said. “It’s funny because my mom (Donna) is such a volleyball guru now, but she didn’t want me playing volleyball in high school because there was already so much on my plate. A lot of my friends started with JO (Junior Olympics) volleyball in the eighth grade, but I didn’t play.
“When my freshman year started, my friends were trying out, but I didn’t go. It was (softball teammate) Amber Waldroup who stayed after me. The second day of tryouts I finally went out there, and I made the team. Amber always tells everybody she deserves the credit, and she’s right.”
In time, volleyball became Morrow’s best sport. She’s smart, she gets after it and a 29-inch vertical jump doesn’t hurt. She’s improved each year. As a senior, she South’s go-to player and one of the best the county’s seen in a while.
“Volleyball is a game of reactions, going offense to defense in an instant and with that ball coming at you 90 mph,” Dowling said. “Kayla has the quick reactions you need, and she jumps so well because she’s worked so hard in weightlifting classes.”
Morrow has been all-county in softball. She’ll be South’s top returner in basketball and lends a hand to the track team for the jumps and sprints in major meets.
“People ask me if I’m going to keep playing the other sports,” Morrow said. “Of course I am. I still love them all. It’s just that volleyball is what I love most.”
Morrow expects to log double-figure kills every match, but the homecoming honor was a surprise.
“Growing up, I was always that tomboy playing baseball with the boys,” she said.” People at church were kidding me about that. They were a little bit shocked.”
NOTE: South travels to Statesville today for a key NPC game. Both teams are 4-6 in the NPC and tied for fourth place. The league gets four playoff berths. South won the first meeting with the Hounds 3-2. South finishes the regular season at home against East Rowan on Thursday.