Burnet High School senior setter Kaylie Russell (seated, middle) signed a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball for Arlington Baptist University on Feb. 13. Pictured with her are Burnet High School assistant coaches Elizabeth Duran (seated, left) and Brent Kelley and head coach Shelly Jones (standing). Courtesy photo
STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
Burnet High School senior volleyball player Kaylie Russell signed a National Letter of Intent on Feb. 13 to play volleyball at Arlington Baptist University.
Lady Dawgs head coach Shelly Jones said Russell chose Arlington Baptist after attending open tryouts and touring the North Texas campus. She visited other schools but chose Arlington Baptist because of the relationships she built with the players and coaches, Jones said.
“She could further her education while having the opportunity to play a sport she loves,” she said.
Though Russell didn’t vocally express an interest in playing collegiate volleyball, Jones said it was apparent to her that the senior setter wouldn’t say no to continuing. So when Jones received an email inquiry regarding a setter who was interested in playing in college, she went directly to Russell and told her of a tryout.
“The day she came back to school after it, you could see her beaming from a mile away because she enjoyed playing so much,” the coach said. “It made me happy to know that she was grateful for the information.”
While Jones can correct techniques and fundamentals, she noted that Russell “has a passion for the game that you cannot teach.”
“Kaylie works extremely hard for any coach she encounters,” Jones said. “If she continues to believe in herself and remembers the abilities she has as an athlete, there is no doubt in my mind that she will do great things at ABU.”
Russell has worked hard at improving her game. As a setter, it’s her job to match hitters to blockers and look for the best ways to end rallies, Jones said. She noted that Russell worked equally hard to improve defensively.
“With her being a first-time varsity player as a senior, she took this opportunity and owned it like this role has been hers for years,” Jones said. “Defensively, she struggled at the beginning of the season, but with all her hard work, she became one of the top defensive players for our team.”
Russell had 58 kills, 60 aces, 446 assists, 168 digs, and seven blocks during the 2018 season.
“I have been extremely blessed to have had the chance to coach Kaylie, and I cannot wait to watch her play next season,” Jones said. “She is a great young lady and will excel as she grows in her future career.”