Surry Community College head volleyball coach Jan Marion-Kiser says it wasn’t her plan to reunite the 2014 East Surry High School team that missed a state championship by just three points, but her roster this fall will definitely be reminiscent of that outstanding squad.
On Thursday afternoon, Sydney Marion became the fourth member of the 2014 Lady Cardinals to sign with SCC when she inked her letter of intent with the Lady Knights during a ceremony at ESHS. Come fall, Marion will again become a teammate of Jessi Marion, Kacie Markle and Cheyenne Kota, who signed with Surry after graduating a year ago.
Marion joins the SCC program coming off an outstanding 2015 season, in which she was the lone starting senior on a young Lady Cardinals team that still posted an 18-11 record, won the Northwest Conference Tournament title, and advanced to the third round of the NCHSAA 1A state playoffs. Marion led the team in blocks and kill percentage on her way to a second straight all-conference season.
For Marion-Kiser, Marion’s decision to sign with the Lady Knights continues a successful run in which she has strengthened her roster for no more than the cost of a tank of gas. Marion is the fourth local volleyball standout to join the team this month.
“It is great to have Sydney join the team for the upcoming season. She has been a kid that I have watched over the years grow in the sport and we are so lucky to have her,” the coach said. “She gives us a strong block and will help speed our offense up. Sydney is a well rounded player and it will be nice to have her hold the middle down for us. I am looking forward to having her on the court this season.”
Marion earned seven varsity letters while at East Surry, including three in volleyball and four in basketball, where she led the team in scoring and rebounding this past season.
“Basketball used to be my favorite, but now it’s volleyball,” she said.
Marion said that the highlight of her high school athletic career was the trip to the state finals as a junior, in a season where East Surry overcame a midseason injury to one of its best players and still posted a 29-2 record. The Lady Cardinals rode a 14-match winning streak into the final at Reynolds Coliseum. In one of the hardest-fought 1A finals ever, East Surry dropped the first two sets to Princeton, beat the Lady Dawgs in the next two, but then dropped a heart-stopping fifth set 15-12.
Marion said that the loss still rankles her a bit. East Surry was probably the stronger team overall, but hadn’t been seriously challenged in weeks, while Princeton had already survived two straight five-set battles just to get out of the East Regional.
“Sometimes I wish we would have played just a little bit better that day,” she said. “(Princeton) was one of the few teams that season that was competitive with us. Most days, we were just the better team.”
The Lady Cardinals were too young to make another run at the championship in her senior season, but upsetting arch-rival and regular-season NW1A champ Mount Airy in the conference tournament still made it a memorable season for the 5’10” middle hitter.
“Everyone stepped up and realized what we were playing for,” said Marion. “It’s always good to beat Mount Airy.”
She’ll get plenty more chances at victory while at Surry, alongside her former ESHS teammates and even some former rivals.
It’s really exciting. I’ve always known Jan, and I like the fact that all of my friends and people I’ve played with in the past have gone there,” she said.
Marion said she would probably complete her volleyball career with two years at SCC, although she does plan to transfer to a four-year school and pursue a major in a medical field.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.