Archive for Thursday, July 27, 2006

Norwood to play at Division I Lamar

July 27, 2006

As patient as Dayna Norwood was when weighing her college options, even she was a bit surprised with her final choice.

Norwood signed her letter-of-intent May 17 to play volleyball at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. The 2006 Lansing High graduate said it wasn't until she made her campus visit that Lamar skyrocketed to the top of her list.

"When I went there, I wasn't sure (that's where I'd go)," Norwood said. "But once I met the girls, I was like, 'This is where I want to go.' Plus, it's warm."

Although the players and the warm climate were the top selling points for Norwood, she said Lamar's campus and sports facilities also were appealing.

"It seemed fairly new, modernized and all that," she said. "They're building a new sports center that's just for volleyball. We're really excited about that. It was almost up when I went down there."

The facilities upgrade is a major building block for Lamar, but so is the 2006 recruiting class. Norwood was the fifth player to sign with the Cardinals. Much will be expected out of the newcomers if the Cardinals hope to improve on last year's 8-21 record.

Norwood said she welcomes the challenge of earning her position on the team and showing coach Justin Gilbert that she belongs on the court.

"He doesn't guarantee playing time, but he said he could see me on the court just because they have one girl that plays my position (libero)," Norwood said.

"I feel like I have to go in there and prove myself," she added. "I know I'm not going to go in there and play right away. It's a 'prove yourself' kind of thing."

For Norwood, the opportunity to play Division I volleyball came through years of hard work at the club and high school levels. She began playing when she was eight years old, and she later played in LHS coach Julie Slater's Northeast Elite club before moving to the Kansas City club circuit.

"We have a great tradition and really good players and all of that," Slater said of Lansing's volleyball history. "But she's put a tremendous amount of work in during the offseason, and she's played a high level of club ball. All of the best players - Natalie (Uhart, University of Kansas) and Devona (Williams, Alabama A&M) - did it, and that's what it takes."

Slater said Norwood's game was ready for the college level for a number of reasons. First, Slater called Norwood "one of the very best" players in Lansing's storied history. Second, she is a top-notch defensive player and server.

Norwood was best known in high school for sprawling across the floor to dig the ball, but Slater said her best asset may be her serve. Norwood was unable to display her serve last year because in high school the libero - a defense-only position - can't serve. At the college level, however, she can. That could bode well for Lamar. Norwood possesses an obscure serve that, when hit properly, is tough to return. In fact, she rattled off nine straight aces during a game at the 2004 state tournament.

"At the next level, everybody can pass, so serving then takes it to a whole new level and you have to serve hard and tough every time," Slater said.

Before departing for college, Norwood made one final appearance on the local volleyball scene. That was Tuesday night when she and LHS teammate Casey Welch participated in the Kansas Volleyball Association All-Star Match at Silver Lake High School.

Norwood will leave for Lamar Aug. 5 to begin her college career. She said she might study to become a police officer, although she is considering a variety of academic options.

"I want to be a detective and all that, so criminal investigation stuff," she said. "I want to do pathology, too, so I'm going to have to do biology. I guess I'll find out (what I'll do) when I get down there."

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