06/13/09 — Spring Creek's Smith signs with MOC

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Spring Creek's Smith signs with MOC

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 13, 2009 11:11 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- Those weekends of bump, set and spike in the backyard have paid dividends throughout Kristin Smith's volleyball career on the high school circuit.

She received her biggest payoff this week.

The Spring Creek senior signed a national letter-of-intent to play at perennial Division II power Mount Olive College this fall. Smith, a 5-foot-8 middle hitter, is the second player to advance to the collegiate ranks during Deanna Morris' five-year tenure as head coach.

"Kristin has worked hard the past four years and she deserves it," said Morris. "She's put 110 percent into practice and games, and playing club ball -- along with encouraging her teammates to play club ball -- has really helped our program at Spring Creek as well."

A four-year varsity starter, Smith enjoyed a stellar junior campaign that truly defined her untapped potential. She guided the Gators to their first-ever Carolina 1-A Conference regular-season championship and an eastern semifinal appearance in the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

Smith established single-season records for kills (242), kills in a match (27) and service aces (51) during that run. She set a new ace record this past fall with 52 as Spring Creek returned to the playoffs for the second straight year.

A soft-spoken individual with a strong attack presence on the court, Smith never envisioned playing on the college level. Once encountered the competition and joined the WAVE club team, her game has blossomed.

"It started with me playing with my dad (Craig) in the backyard on weekends, kind of like a fun thing but once I got to high school, it was something I really wanted to do," said Smith. "I didn't know then that I was going to get here. Once I started playing competitively and enjoyed it, this (going to college) was what I set my goals on.

"It's always been my dream since I was 15."

Smith heads to Mount Olive with visions of improving her game and helping keep the program among the region and nation's elite teams. The Trojans finished 19-17 overall last season and fell to Anderson (S.C.) University in the Conference Carolinas tournament final.

During open-gym tryouts, Smith's hustle impressed new head coach Cole Tallman. Smith, while attending games and practices, also noticed how critical communication and movement is on the court.

Tallman plans to convert Smith into an outside hitter.

"In club ball, I did play outside hitter and do have some experience there, but I really loved middle hitting," said Smith. "It's going to be different. Getting a call from him three months ago and knowing that I have a chance to play college volleyball is great. I've always thought Mount Olive was the best of the best.

"They're just really good."