Crystal Braud held an open tryout for the volleyball squad at Clark Atlanta University in November.
Greenbrier senior Kailyn Blackmon made an immediate impact on the coach and her team.
"I put (Kailyn) out on the court with my girls, and they instantly fell in love with her," Braud said. "She's an excellent setter, and she instantly had chemistry with my returning players.
"They were begging for Kailyn. They were saying, 'Please get the setter from Greenbrier.' "
With Braud in attendance, along with Greenbrier coach Debbie Born and friends and family, Blackmon signed a letter of intent to play volleyball for the Lady Panthers next season.
The opportunity to play volleyball at Clark Atlanta gave Blackmon a different reaction from her Greenbrier teammates in their final game, a loss to eventual state champion Pope in the Elite Eight of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
"I remember everybody crying. Me, I didn't cry, because I realized that I was going to play college volleyball," said Blackmon, who helped the Lady Wolfpack set numerous school marks en route to a 43-5 record this season.
"It was still sad, though, because I knew I wouldn't be with this team anymore," she said.
Blackmon, who split time at outside hitter and setter for Greenbrier, averaged 4.5 kills and seven assists per game this season. She compiled 284 digs and served at 90 percent, finishing the year with 70 aces.
Born identified Blackmon's personality and leadership as the characteristics that set her apart.
"She's just one of those good-natured kids, just somebody you enjoy being around," the Lady Wolfpack coach said. "And that's what made her so valuable to this team, because she would motivate and lead the team, but in a good way. ... There was no meanness to it."
Born said she will hate to see Blackmon leave because of the special person she is.
"She's one of those kids that come around maybe once or twice in your coaching career," Born said.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.