Even in the middle of a disappointing 2016 season, Taylor Coe was a bright spot on the Surry Central volleyball team.
The 6’1” middle hitter, who starts for Central’s basketball and softball teams along with her three seasons as a member of the Lady Eagles’ varsity volleyball team, led last year’s team in kills and kill percentage, and was second in service aces and third in digs. Even though the Lady Eagles had a poor record, Coe’s volleyball skills were noticed by various colleges around the area, and going into her senior year, she was listening.
“Volleyball has been my favorite sport for several years,” she said at her official signing ceremony Friday, where she announced she would continue her career next year at Montreat College. “I’ve been playing competitive volleyball since my seventh-grade year and I’d been to camps before then.”
Montreat, a member of the Appalachian Athletic Conference in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), had only one player as tall as Coe on its roster last year, when the Lady Cavaliers went 14-19. In addition, the school already has had good luck with Surry Central players — current Montreat senior and ex-Lady Eagle Kendra Johnson was named as the AAC’s Libero of the Year last season. Montreat wanted Coe, and as it turned out, the feeling was mutual.
“I’d been looking (at colleges) all spring and winter last year, and I went to their tour in April, and I just fell in love with the school and the people there,” she said. “The environment was great. They had what I wanted, and there are some very good people there, and it was welcoming. It just felt right.
“I looked at few other schools, but none of them caught my eye like Montreat did.”
Coe said she plans to major in biology when she gets to the next level, but she still has plenty she wants to accomplish at Surry Central. The Lady Eagles are one of the state’s most improved teams, having already matched their win total from all of last season. In addition, Central has already swept the season series from arch-rival Mount Airy, after being non-competitive with the Lady Bears last year. Those wins helped Coe and her teammates to a sense of redemption.
“Beating Mount Airy twice this year was pretty great, and in my sophomore year, in that pink tournament, we beat Mount Airy and East Surry both on the same day,” said Coe, who added that she has had a great experience at Central throughout her athletic career, even in the lean times.
Carrie Bruce, Coe’s coach in one sport or another ever since middle school, isn’t surprised that Montreat came after her top front-line player.
“Taylor has a lot of hard work and dedication. When she sets her mind to do something, she’s going to do it,” said Bruce, who first met Coe when she came out for softball in the seventh grade. “She wanted to get better, she got better. She wants to hit harder, she hits harder. Everything we’ve asked her to do, she’s done. She’s a great coachable player and a good kid.”
As a senior, she’s played better than ever. In the third match of the season, Coe got her first chance to take on Mount Airy this season, and dominated the middle to the tune of 13 kills, eight blocks and five service aces as Central won in four sets. She leads Surry Central in kills (70), kill percentage (.424), aces (24), blocks (21) and even has eight assists.
“She keeps rolling, so we keep giving her the ball,” said Bruce. “She is a senior this year, and this is her last year of playing for Surry Central, and we want her to have a great year and have the best season she can have.”
Central earned a win in its conference opener over Atkins on Friday, and the Lady Eagles have their eye on getting back to the postseason after last year’s frustrating campaign. The team’s only losses have come to East Surry and Alleghany, two of the area’s top teams that play below 4A.
“I just want to have a really good season. So far it’s been good and I want us to keep it up,” she said.
Bruce said she’ll be keeping up with Coe’s success at the next level, as well.
“She’s one of my kids,” Bruce said. “It’s great to see her go off and do good things.”
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.