Rosewood's Kari Drake

Rosewood’s Kari Drake signs her letter of intent of play volleyball at Lenoir Community College.

Lee Avery is on a mission to find and sign the best volleyball talent eastern North Carolina has to offer. The first-year Lenoir Community College head coach didn’t have to look far to find a great player.

On Wednesday, with her family sitting by her side, Rosewood High School senior Kari Drake signed a letter of intent to play volleyball at Lenoir Community College.

“I really like the way that the college is set up, and coach himself is a great coach, so I hope to learn more from him,” Drake said. “It’s helped a lot to have supportive parent, too.”

Drake, who plans on majoring in graphic design and imaging technology and eventually get a master’s degree, searched for a school that met her athletic and academic needs. Last season she helped lead Rosewood, which finished 9-12 last season, to an appearance in the 1-A State Playoffs.

“It’s exciting, and it’s a dream come true for me,” Drake said. “I’m really excited to fulfill something I’ve worked so hard for, since I started high school I had a passion for volleyball, and it’s just grown as I’ve gotten older.”

Drake, a defensive specialist, will have no problem finding a role on the Lancers squad. She has spent the past few seasons playing for the Lenoir Fusion Volleyball Club, which is coached by Avery.

“She’s player that knows my system, and she can come in and make a difference,” Avery said. “She’s a go-getter and very coachable. She’s one of the most coachable players I’ve ever coached. She gives 110 percent on the court, she stays positive, and she’s learned a lot about the game of volleyball over the past few years.”

With her next two years set, Drake is ready to move to the next level and pursue her life passions on and off the volleyball court.