Smith to continue volleyball career at Ky. Christian

Published 10:48 am Thursday, March 28, 2019

MORELAND — Lincoln County High School senior Savanna Smith made a name for herself as a volleyball player the last four years, but she could have very easily gone in a totally different direction.

Five years ago, soccer was Smith’s sport of choice, with volleyball only a recreational pastime. That all changed when she was an eighth-grader after a volleyball team was started at Lincoln County Middle School.

“I was like I wanted to play both,” Smith said. “Even though they were at the same time, we could kind of split the time because it’s a lot easier to do that kind of thing in middle school. But in high school I had to choose because volleyball and soccer had the same season.”

“I had played soccer from age 3 to 14. When I was younger, everybody was telling me I had a natural ability to play volleyball … I started to play and I got better and better and I improved very fast. So I started to go to Lexington United and play club there, and I just got a lot better the more I played and the more coaching I got.”

Smith channeled the same kind of energy and work ethic into volleyball that she had in soccer, and became a standout performer for the Lady Patriots.

The LCHS senior is now taking her game to the next level, signing on with the Kentucky Christian University women’s volleyball team.

“I cannot wait,” Smith said. “I’m excited to get there and prove myself.”

Smith, the daughter of David and Jan Smith, made her announcement public during a special signing ceremony held at her church, Moreland Christian Church. However, the signing might not have occurred had it not been for the urging of Jan Smith.

“Honestly, I didn’t know what I was going to do after graduation,” Savanna Smith said. “I love volleyball and I’ve always wanted to play it (college) but I just didn’t know that it would come. I was so anxious and nervous. I didn’t know what I was going to major in. I didn’t know where I wanted to go. I was so scared. I was just trying to find a school.”

And then entered Mom.

“Mom said, ‘Well, how would you like to play volleyball in college?’ I was like, I would love to play volleyball in college,’” said Smith.

Jan Smith then contacted KCU head volleyball coach Jeffrey Huff and the wheels were set in motion.

“It was kind of like a God thing because he (Huff) never answers his phone,” Savanna Smith said. “She called him and was like, ‘Hey, would you happen to blah, blah, blah?’ And he was like, ‘Actually, we are playing at Centre College.’ So that weekend we got to go and I got to meet him and talked to him. I got to talk to him and met the assistant coach and everything.”

“Then we planned a day to visit. And when I went to that campus, like, I just knew. I was ready to move in that day because I loved it so much. The atmosphere and the chapel …. Yeah.”

Huff, who is entering his second season as Lady Knights coach, said he knew in his meeting with Smith that he wanted her on his team.

“She made a significant impression on me the very first time we talked,” he said. “You guys came to watch us at Danville and we met just for a minute before the game. Then we played a match and we got dragged over the coals and I asked her what she saw. And she pretty much analyzed the game the same way I did and I thought, ‘Uh, oh! I’ve got a high school senior that can do the same thing I can do.’ That might not be a good thing. She was very impressive with what she had to say and the way she presented it.”

“I came down and watched her play one night and I saw that work ethic … I saw that intensity and that fire – and that did it for me.”

While the coach and the campus won Smith over, it didn’t hurt that the Grayson school, which has an enrollment of less than 1,000 students, satisfied her academic requirements.

“It was everything I was looking for,” she said. “I love to build relationships with my teachers and stuff and get close, and in a big college you can’t really do that. With the smaller college, I’m going to be able to build relationships with my professors and they can help me with work and stuff if I need a little extra help with something. That helped me make my decision, because I work better when I can build relationships.”

Smith joins Kentucky Christian just as the athletic department moves to the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC). The Lady Knights finished 13-22 in the fall of 2018.

Smith, who played middle hitter at LCHS, says she isn’t sure what position she will be playing in college.

“I don’t think I’m going to play the same position because I’m not tall enough,” she said. “I’d played middle hitter since eighth grade and then I became a very good back row player. If I get my timing and everything down, I might play outside in college and, if I don’t, I’ll be back row because I’m a good passer also. It just depends how it goes.”

Smith won’t be reporting to the KCU campus for several months, but her new coach is happy to have her on board.

“People sometimes ask me, ‘Who are you looking for coach?’ when I’m recruiting, and I say I want good kids that are great players or great kids that are good players. I don’t really care which one of those two I get. I’m not sure which one of those she is, but I’m convinced she’s one of them,” Huff said after Smith’s signing. “I’m tickled to death to have her. It’s an exciting day for her and an exciting day for KCU volleyball. Our team just got better as far as I’m concerned.”

Smith plans to pursue a degree in the medical field at KCU, with career plans to become a pediatric nurse practitioner.

“I’m really excited to be able to go there and learn. And I can use it in the mission field,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to go to Africa. Going on mission trips is something I love and I want to be able to use that and go with medical teams. That’s something I’ve always dreamed of.”