In the talent-heavy world of DeSoto County high school volleyball, being noticed can be easy, but it can also be hard.
College coaches are figuring out the county is where they need to come if they’re looking for talented players to fill their rosters, so players can be confident that somebody is going to be watching them.
At the same time, sometimes it helps to “know someone who knows someone” to get a little bit of extra notice.
Such is the case with Hernando senior middle blocker Kaitlyn Doyle, although with her accolades she probably was going to get noticed eventually, anyway.
The reigning DeSoto County Player of the Year recently added Second Team All-State honors to her resume, along with being part of the North squad for the Mississippi Association of Coaches All-Star game.
Thursday, Doyle, daughter of Christine and Russell Doyle of Hernando, added another accolade; that of likely being the first Lady Tiger to earn a college scholarship to play volleyball.
The sport hasn’t been in existence in Mississippi for that long and Hernando coach Jayme Vinson said she can’t recall another signee in at least two decades of volleyball at the school.
“I’ve been here for eight years and the coach before me was here for 10 years,” Vinson said. “As far as my knowledge goes back, she is our first volleyball signee.”
Wallace State (Ala.) Community College is where Doyle is headed to play volleyball and pursue an interior design degree. Doyle said a former assistant coach of hers played at Wallace State and helped make the connection with Doyle and Lions’ coach Randy Daniel.
“She said lots of good things about it and I know coach Daniel cares because he was reaching out to me and talking to me a lot, so I know I’ll have a good chance to play there,” Doyle said.
This past season, Wallace State finished with a 34-10 record and made its ninth straight NJCAA national tournament appearance in Hutchinson, Kan.
Daniel, with a career record of 404-90, said he started taking an early interest in Doyle and feels she can almost immediately impact his squad.
“I watched film on her early on and Kaitlyn is a very athletic, very competitive kid,” Daniel said. “I made several efforts to watch her in person and enjoyed watching her, her passion and desire to do well.”
Vinson said she is proud of what Doyle has accomplished, but knows what Kaitlyn did for the Lady Tigers will be a role difficult to fill next season.
“She’s one of those players you just can’t replace,” Vinson said. “She’s great in every aspect of the game. She plays all the way around, which is uncommon, especially when you get into college volleyball. She was the heart of our team and we are really going to miss her. They are really big shoes to fill.”
Doyle felt, while she has individually excelled at Hernando, one goal was left unfulfilled.
“I’ve done pretty well here personally and pretty good as a team,” said Doyle. “Obviously we didn’t accomplish a state championship, which was a dream of mine, but I know they can do it here and I hope they will do it without me.”
While middle blocker was Doyle’s position on the floor for the Lady Tigers, she could move to outside hitter, a position Kaitlyn enjoys playing.
“Kaitlyn can play multiple positions so that is really going to help her get on the court,” Daniel said. “She is really good at blocking. She can play middle blocker if I needed her, outside, wherever,” with Doyle adding, “I see myself as an outside hitter. Being in the middle is great, but I’ve always enjoyed playing on the outside.”
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.