PEMBROKE —All year long, Purnell Swett’s Jamee Bird was at the center of the Rams multi-faceted offensive attack.
Next year, the she’ll be keeping her game as close to home as possible.
The senior signed a letter of intent this week to join the volleyball team at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke next season, trying her hand at the NCAA Division II level.
“It’s close to home and they just have a pretty good volleyball program,” Bird said.
Bird is one of two county volleyball players that have announced their intent to play at the college level next season. Lumberton setter Allison Kinlaw has chosen to play at Brunswick Community College in Supply.
Bird was one of the top kill leaders on her team, though her final season stats were not available. She was one of three Rams named to this year’s all Southeastern Conference team and helped Swett finish third in conference play.
“She was a big asset to our team,” Swett coach Courtney Hill said. “You definitely tell when she was on the bench in the rotation that we struggled a little bit out there and when we got into a bind we were looking forward to her being back on the court and getting us big kills and big blocks.”
Bird chose between UNCP and Lenoir Community College in Kinston.
“I’ve always wanted to play at a higher level,” she said.
The Braves finished their second season under coach Angie Byrd on Friday, improving from 5-26 in 2012 to 16-21 last year.
Kinlaw, a multi-sport athlete, finished the season as a key cog in in the Pirate offense, accounting for 363 of the team’s 408 assists. She also had a serving percentage of 92 and was second on the team with 57 aces.
“We’re going to miss her,” said Lumberton coach Jeff McLamb. “She was a big part of our assists.”
She’ll be joining a team that went 1-18 this fall and expects to get playing time early on.
“I’m excited to play,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity and I’m lucky that I get the opportunity to play.
She chose the school primarily to continue her college career and hopes to possibly further it after finishing her two years.
McLamb said he expects her to fit in well with Brunswick and believes her potential could shine through as she focuses only on one sport.
“I don’t think she’s ever put 100 percent into volleyball and she does she’s just going to get even better,” McLamb said.