DOBSON — Grayce Goins probably had one of the most difficult tasks of any local volleyball player during the 2016 season.
The Surry Central defensive specialist and libero was one of the focal points of the Lady Eagles’ defense, during a season in which the team was rebuilding and which struggled to put together a consistent attack all season, ultimately finishing fifth in the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference and missing the state playoffs for the first time in head coach Carrie Bruce’s six-year tenure.
Night after night, it was left to the experienced Goins to cover the floor and make plays, which she did to the tune of 238 serve receptions, and 116 digs, to go along with 26 service aces and a 97 percent good-serve percentage.
It didn’t save Central’s season, but neither did her efforts go un-noticed.
Goins was one of several local seniors who was pursued by colleges and universities in the area, and decided this week to continue her volleyball career as a member of the Salem College Spirits of the USA South Conference in the NCAA Division III ranks.
“I’m realy excited that I don’t have to give it up yet,” said Goins, who signed her letter of intent in the Surry Central lobby on Tuesday afternoon along with her friends, family and coaches from both Central and Salem.
Goins decided to join the Spirits thanks to the efforts of that team’s head coach, Kevin Troup. Troup has been the head coach at Salem for two seasons, but is also the coach of an under-17 travel team in the Champion Volleyball Clubs organization. This connection brought coach and player together.
“I liked (Salem’s) campus, and my travel volleyball coach is part of Champion Volleyball Clubs,” she said. “Kevin Troup, another coach at Champion, is the head coach for Salem. I like Kevin and his coaching style, and I feel like Salem is a good fit for both my volleyball career and my educational career.”
Goins felt strongly enough about the quality of education at Salem, along with the volleyball program there, that she never really considered any other school.
“I was focused on Salem and getting to where I needed to be in order to play for them,” she said of her recruitment and the travel ball season.
Goins has played the sport for the last seven years, both on travel ball teams and for Surry Central, where she spent two seasons on JV and then played on the varsity as a junior and senior. She had hoped to win a championship for the Lady Eagles, and said she hopes the younger players on the team go on to achieve that goal.
“Each year we came out with a different team and a different set,” she said. “We always wanted to have success and go to the states and win it, and I hope they do in the future.”
Goins will move on to Salem, which posted a 13-18 mark in its first season in the USA South. She is projected as a defensive specialist for the team and said she may do some setting, as well. Academically, she plans to get a double major in sociology and psychology with a minor in Spanish.
Salem will begin its season in early September.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.