Thursday, May 19, 2011
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Photo by Michael Buckelew
CONYERS -- The Region 8-AAAA volleyball player of the year is taking her talents to North Carolina.
Lauren Aikens, who helped lead Rockdale to a region championship and the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs, on Thursday signed a letter of intent with Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, N.C.
It's been quite a progression in volleyball for Aikens, who never played the sport before trying out her freshman season. In those four years of playing at Rockdale and club volleyball with the Atlanta Boom, Aikens became one of the best hitters in the state and also became skilled at blocking and serving. During her senior season, Aikens collected 444 kills and 97 aces.
"Lauren immediately made other teams take notice of us, and it's no coincidence we had our two best seasons ever with her as a full-time starter," Rockdale coach Stephen Sansing said. "She was a big-time hitter for us; she really opened things up for our other hitters. She matured into a great server and could've played back row if we had needed her to.
"The difference between being a good player in high school and having the ability to sign a volleyball scholarship almost anywhere is the experience of playing club volleyball. Since Lauren didn't start volleyball until ninth grade, she needed those extra two seasons of club volleyball to catch up to everyone else. Not only did she catch up, she surpassed all the hitters in the region and most of the state."
Now, the Division II Rams, who finished 13-14 in 2010, get to reap the benefits.
"Lauren should be a good fit at Winston-Salem, because any team can use a good hitter, blocker and server," Sansing said. "They have had success at the Division II level and she should be able to fit right in. She's traveled all over the country playing top teams, so that experience should help her out at the college level."