By Scott Herpst/NPCO
When Ridgeland senior Layna Jenkins began playing competitive volleyball in the seventh grade, she had no idea that the sport would be a part of her future after high school.
However, that’s the reality for Jenkins after signing a letter of intent with Georgia Northwestern in front of family and friends at Ridgeland High School this past Wednesday.
“It’s an exciting day because I get to start college and keep doing one of my favorite things,” she explained. “I knew I wanted to play for (GNTC) Coach (Carrie) Powell after I met her because she’s really sweet. The school is also close to home and wanted I stay close to home.”
Jenkins was the top offensive player for the Lady Panthers in her senior season, finishing with 109 kills and 15 aces to go with 79 digs, earning her first-team status on the Walker County Dream Team.
“I’m just really excited for her that she’s getting this opportunity to work on her game and go on to the next level,” said Ridgeland head coach Kari Cooper, who also played volleyball in college. “I know she wasn’t ready to quit playing volleyball, so I’m happy she’s getting this chance.”
“She’s a great hitter and she has a great personality,” said Powell, who added she first met Jenkins on the club ball circuit. “She’s fun to be around, easy to get along with, and very coachable.”
Powell said the signing of the 6-foot Jenkins also helps fill a glaring need for the Lady Bobcats.
“All the girls I’ve signed so far this year have been hitters, with the exception of one setter that we needed,” explained Powell, who did not have a player taller than 5-8 on last year’s roster. “We lacked in that department last year, but we’re taking care of that this year.”
Jenkins played club ball with the North Georgia Rage on a team that included three of her future Lady Bobcats teammates, Victoria Sprouse and Rachel McGill of Ringgold and Casey Chapman of North Murray.
“It’s good to go into this having people there you already know,” Jenkins added. “I wanted to play volleyball in college, but I really didn’t know much about the program (at GNTC). “But when I found out they were signing there, I talked Coach Powell and decided it would be a good fit for me.”
Powell added that being a Ridgeland alum herself, the signing of Jenkins was “special”.
“All the signings are special, but this one even more so because I went to Ridgeland and played here,” she added. “It’s neat to come over here and walk the halls again. I’m glad to say I’ll have a Ridgeland alum on the team.”
Jenkins plans to major in education and take her core classes at GNTC before transferring to another school to finish her degree.