Liberty volleyball 12th-year head coach Shane Pinder and his staff have announced the addition of six student-athletes to the team's 2016 roster. Payton Carter, Leah Clayton, Casey Goodwin, Anna Gragg, Hannah Morris and Kainah Williams have all signed commitments to attend Liberty starting in the 2016-17 academic year.
"We are excited about the future of Liberty volleyball with this incoming class," Pinder said. "With its size, speed and skill we have added depth and valuable competition to our gym."
Payton Carter (OH, 6-0, Fort Mill, S.C./Fort Mill High School) Payton Carter is a four-year starter at Fort Mill High School. She was named a 2015-16 UnderArmour All-America honorable mention, posting 367 kills, 168 digs and 52 aces this season. Carter earned All-Region mention this year, her second season serving as team captain and team MVP. A two-time Rock Hill Herald All-Area player, Carter recorded 244 kills as a junior. She earned all-tournament team honors at the 2014 Nation Ford Invitational. In club volleyball, she competed for the Carolina High Performance team and A2 High Performance team, spending six years on a national level team. She has appeared on the UnderArmour Phenom Watch List. Carter is an FCA leader while also serving on the Beta Club.
"Payton is an outside hitter who is a six-rotation athlete," Pinder said. "She has great passion for the game and our program. I believe her work ethic and desire to be a great player will have a huge impact in our gym."
Leah Clayton (OH, 5-11, Danville, Va./Westover Christian Academy) Leah Clayton joins the Lady Flames after a dominant career at Westover Christian Academy. This past weekend, she led her team to a VISAA state title. She has recorded 2,189 career kills, 217 career blocks and 1,252 career digs. During all four years of high school, she was named VACA State MVP, in addition to first team VACA All-District, All-Region and All-State honors. Clayton was voted to the VISAA D3 All-State first team each year, while earning back-to-back VISAA D3 State Player of the Year honors. She was named Danville Register & Bee All-Metro Player of the Year in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Clayton also was a two-time VACA first team All-State player in basketball, scoring 1,120 career points. She has received the Distinguished Student Award while also being her school's MVP four straight years.
"Leah is a six-rotation outside hitter," Pinder noted. "She is fast, athletic and physical at the net. She has many great qualities as a player and person but one that separates her is her desire to compete and win. Her serve receive and defensive skills on the back row will be a great addition to our roster."
Casey Goodwin (RS, 6-0, Rougemont, N.C./Person High School) Casey Goodwin comes to Liberty following a standout four-year career at Person High School in Roxboro, N.C. As a senior, she scored 209 kills while attacking at a .263 pace. During her freshman year, she earned an all-tournament award from USA Volleyball. She has been named Athlete of the Week by The Courier Times on at least one occasion during each of the last three years. A three-time all-conference player, Goodwin was named her team's Most Outstanding Player in 2015. She also earned Best Hitter honors at Wake Forest's camp.
"Casey is a long, athletic right side attacker," Pinder added. "Along with her length she is a 10-foot plus jumper who plays well above the net. This is a position in which we lack depth, so I expect her to come in and compete for a spot immediately."
Anna Gragg (MB, 6-2, Missoula, Mont./Big Sky High School) Anna Gragg hails from Missoula, Mont., where she has started for Big Sky High School for four years. As a junior, she was named second team all-conference and second team all-state while serving as team captain. She has earned her team's MVP and Offensive Player of the Year award in each of the last two years. Gragg was tabbed Prep Athlete of the Week as both a sophomore and junior. She helped her team win the 2015 Evergreen Region, and competed for the 18 National Montana Volleyball Academy.
Gragg is a member of National Honor Society and Health Science Academy while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She also competed in basketball and track.
Her father, Scott Gragg, is in the Montana Grizzly Hall of Fame after playing 11 seasons (1995-2005) in the NFL.
"Anna is a middle blocker who has a big upside to her game," Pinder said. "With her size and physicality at the net, as she develops I anticipate her making a big impact on our program."
Hannah Morris (S, 6-0, Lynchburg, Va./Liberty Christian Academy) Hannah Morris joins the Lady Flames from nearby Liberty Christian Academy (LCA). A setter and middle blocker, Morris has recorded over 1,000 kills and 1,000 assists in her career. She has helped LCA to four straight conference titles. Morris was named first team all-conference and first team all-state as both a sophomore and junior, before earning first team all-region honors this year. She was the conference player of the year in 2014, while also being named Virginia Student-Athlete of the Month. Morris has been named News & Advance Player of the Week as both a junior and senior.
Also a standout on the track, she was on a state champion 4 x 100 relay team, as her team won the 2013 outdoor track state title.
Morris is the third LCA Bulldog in as many years to sign with Liberty, joining current Lady Flames in her sister, Rachel Morris and Sarah Downs.
"Hannah is a setter who has good speed and athleticism," Pinder said. "As a high school player she also shared time attacking. Her versatility along with her love to compete will make her a great asset to our program."
Kainah Williams (MB, 6-2, Spring Branch, Texas/Smithson Valley High School) Kainah Williams is a standout middle blocker for Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas. A first team All-District 25-6A player as a junior, she was named an AVCA Phenom Athlete as well. In 2014, she was voted to the all-tournament team at the Fraulein Fest. This season, she has earned all-tournament honors at the Mizuno Texas Showdown, Hill Country Classic and Fraulein Fest. She also has received a "Game Ball" from the San Antonio Express.
In club volleyball, Williams has played the last two years for USA High Performance National A1 Team. She has been named Academic All-District in both 2014 and 2015.
"Kainah is an athletic middle hitter with good size," Pinder said. "She is an explosive player with really good speed who is a proven game changer. She plays with passion and love for the game that inspires her teammates and energizes the gym."
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