Billingsley pair signs volleyball scholarships

Published 10:35 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2017

It is nice to have a taste of home when you go off to college. That is exactly what Crystal Smitherman and Jessica Chandler will have after they both signed to play volleyball at Judson College in Marion.

They made it official during a signing ceremony in the Billingsley gym on May 6.

Their recruiting process required making a trip to the college and going through a tryout in front of the coaching staff. Smitherman’s tryout was Feb. 17, while Chandler’s was March 20.

It took about a week before they found out the final decision and that they had impressed the coaches with their performance on the court.

The two have been teammates on the varsity squad for the past couple of seasons and will continue to be at the next level.

“It [volleyball] tests your limits and your reaction time,” Chandler said. “You have to be completely focused the entire time. I started off playing in P.E. and when I made the team, I found out that there was a lot more to it.”

Some of the intricacies that Chandler learned and perfected over the past four years include different rotations, serves and certain zones to hit the ball.

“It is fast paced and you’ve got to learn it quick or you’re never going to learn it,” Chandler said. “For me, it was just like homework.”

One of the things that they are both looking forward to in college is the travel that takes place throughout the schedule.

“We’re going to be traveling to different states, where as the most we’ve driven before in high school is like an hour or an hour and a half away,” Chandler said.

Smitherman is an outside hitter and Chandler excels in the role of defensive specialist. They will each continue to play those positions at the next level.

Kim Zaner has been the head coach of the volleyball varsity team for the past four seasons. Chandler and Smitherman were her first college signees since taking over.

“Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to have them since ninth grade,” Zaner said. “It has been neat to watch them grow. I’m going to miss them.