New Jersey

Former Lumberton star Lawrence signs with ECSU

SOUTHERN PINES — Former Lumberton High School star KeKe Lawrence was a two-time NJCAA All-American and helped lead her team to two Region 10 titles and a trip to the national tournament as a member of the Sandhills Community College volleyball team.

Shortly before signing a national letter of intent to continue her volleyball and academic career at Elizabeth City State Monday at The Hangar, Lady Flyers coach Alicia Riggan was asked what she remembers most about the 5-foot-11 middle hitter will.

“I will remember her big smile, which she has had since she was a recruit, her work ethic, confidence and determination to be the best person on the pitch,” said the coach. “It will be difficult to replace her.”

Parents Bruce and Vicki Lawrence, Lady Flyers teammates and coaches, members of the basketball team, athletic department and faculty staff, watched as she officially made her commitment to join the NCAA Division II program under the direction of Coach Derrick Brooks. The Vikings posted a record 16-1 with a 26-9 aggregate score last season as a member of the CIAA conference.

“When I was doing my tour, I loved the campus, but the most important thing was connecting with the team and feeling like I wanted to be a part of it,” Lawrence said. “I loved how the coach handled recruitment at every turn and the Tour made me feel at home.”

Lawrence, a product of Lumberton High School, ranked among the NJCAA Division III leaders in solo blocks and total blocks in both seasons while the Lady Flyers went on to win back-to-back regular season and tournament titles in Region 10. She received 10 academic honors as an All-Region freshman and is on track to earn that honor as a sophomore.

In the final game of the regular season in Region 10 last October, which included a 37-35 fourth set, she recorded 18 kills, nine solo blocks, four digs and three serve aces. Teammate L’Asia Jackson, who signed with Elizabeth City State rivals Shaw University, recorded 41 digs and will be on the other side of the net when those teams meet next fall.

Lawrence attributes much of her success to the energy and athleticism she brings to the court. And she spoke about her mindset during games.

“It was just about coming onto the pitch, making a difference and being able to tell my teammates it’s time to go ahead and do what we have to do to get what we want,” she said.

Lawrence’s parents have traveled many miles to support their daughter. Elizabeth City, a coastal city in the Northeast of the state, is about 230 miles from her home.

“There has been a lot of driving but we love her and appreciate all the work that she has done,” said Bruce Lawrence after the signing. “The journey will take a little longer, but we will make it. We are proud of them.”

“My support system is my biggest asset,” said KeKe Lawrence. “I knew this decision would mean long journeys for them, but I told them it doesn’t have to be every game.”

Sophomore JaLasia Ray has another opportunity to be a teammate with Lawrence this spring as a member of the Lady Flyers beach volleyball team.

“She’s a character,” Ray said. “Whether she’s having a good day or a day off, her energy is very big and her presence is big. I will miss that.

“She carried a lot of weight for the team. We wouldn’t be such a good team without them.”

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