Lady Cougars’ Payne finds her comfort zone on a volleyball court | Grayson County


Lillie Payne tried several sports during her youth.

She tried football and T-Ball, she said, and also basketball.

“I tried basketball and I didn’t like it,” said Payne, now a senior at Grayson County High School.

So she tried volleyball in sixth grade, and it’s a sport she’s embraced ever since.

Payne, 17, said one of the best things about volleyball is teamwork and seeing momentum on the court turn into success.

“I like the momentum,” she said at practice on Tuesday. “I like it when we start to build momentum and everything just flows. It’s really fun.

Payne has been a vital part of the Lady Cougar program for the past two years, leading the team in total blocks and solo blocks each season. She had 42 blocks, including 33 solo stops last year and 65 blocks and 48 solos in her second year.

“She keeps getting better every day,” said GCHS head coach Kelli Harris. “She does a great job moving from room to room.

“Even with Lillie’s attacking and blocking abilities, she does an outstanding job of keeping the girls and us coaches loose,” Harris added. “She’s the comic relief of the team, but she’s able to focus to earn us points in different ways.”

Last season, she also led the Lady Cougars with 200 kills and 50 service aces.

Harris calls the 6-foot Payne a “power hitter and tough defender” as center blocker.

Payne says a few areas where she improved the most during her high school career were attacking, hitting and the ability to follow the ball during play.

“I’m more confident on the court,” said Payne, who also saw action in six games as a rookie.

Her improvement, in part, was due to traveling volleyball with the Elizabethtown Volleyball Academy during the offseason and gaining more experience, she said.

Payne, one of three Lady Cougars seniors, said this year’s squad had “a lot of potential”.

“I think we can accomplish a lot this year,” she said. “It looks more promising.”

Grayson County is coming off a 12-26 season that ended in a first-round 3rd District Tournament loss to Ohio County after reaching the 12th District Tournament Finals. Six of last year’s losses were due to COVID-19 cancellations.

She said she values ​​team results more than personal accolades.

“I would definitely rather the team win than have a good game,” Payne said. “I’d rather the team come out with a win and I have a bad game.”

Now that her prep career is coming to an end, she said she has put more emphasis this year on preparing for the season.

“I think I definitely thought more about this season, like I was mentally preparing for it more,” she said, “and I played club and I definitely thought a lot more because this is my last season.”

Payne said she’s not sure if college volleyball is in her future, but “it’s definitely an option.”

Grayson County opens the regular season Aug. 15 at Hart County.


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