Pickett, who has been the team leader for coach Trish Flowers’ Lady Raiders the past two years, will play her college volleyball with the Carson-Newman Lady Eagles in Jefferson City.
Pickett has committed to the C-N program of coach Shannon Mincey in the competitive South Atlantic Conference (SAC). The SAC is a member of NCAA’s Division II Southeast Region.
A signing ceremony was held Monday at Cleveland High School. Participating in the program were Pickett’s parents, Cindy and Roger Pickett; her sister Lindsey; grandparents Charles and Wildene Ray; Cleveland coaches Flowers and assistant Daniel Millsaps; Cleveland High Athletic Director Mike Collier; and coach Mike Pittman of Kristen’s Choo Choo City traveling club team.
Pickett said at Monday’s signing that she feels Carson-Newman is the best fit for her and her collegiate pursuits. “It’s a small school in a small community, but the volleyball program is very competitive in a very competitive conference,” she said.
Pickett said she enjoyed visiting the C-N campus and meeting with the volleyball coaches and some of her future teammates.
Another reason for her decision, she said, is that her sister, Lyndsey, is at UT-Knoxville and can come and see her play. She added that the drive from Cleveland is not that great for her parents and grandparents.
Pickett emphasized that Rachel Harper of Girls Preparatory School (a teammate on her traveling team) has also signed with Carson-Newman ... and Red Bank graduate Courtney Lawson was a freshman with the Lady Eagles this year.
“Carson-Newman is getting a good leader,” said coach Pittman of the Choo Choo traveling team. “Kristen has played for us for three years as our league has grown from seven teams to 16 for girls 12 through 18.”
“We’re excited by Kristen’s opportunity,” Pittman continued. “She’s very dedicated and a hard worker. We’re just glad we’ll have her for this year’s season, and we’ll miss her after that.”
Coach Flowers praised Kristen’s contributions to the Cleveland High volleyball program. “We’ve watched her grow, as we watched her sister before her,” Flowers said. “She set the precedence involved in high school players competing in club volleyball. We’re going to miss her, and her humor.”
Assistant CHS coach Daniel Millsaps agreed the Lady Raiders’ senior will be greatly missed. “She has intensity and hunger, and she wants to win. You can’t teach that.”
Family members are also pleased with the decision to attend Carson-Newman, especially her older sister.
“I’m excited that I’ll be in Knoxville (this coming year), where I’ll be close to Jefferson City and I can go see her play,” said Lyndsey. She played volleyball and softball at Cleveland High, and is studying education at UT-K. She hopes to be a high school coach one day.
Kristen Pickett had an outstanding high school career, and has received honors in club play.
Flowers emphasized that her star setter-hitter was selected to the Best of Preps first team the past two years. She was named to the All-District 5-AAA Team this year, and was All-District and All-Region her junior season.
Kristen, and coach Flowers, agree that her “best ever” match was in this year’s District 5-AAA tournament when she had 34 kills. “I’ve never had a player with 34 kills,” Flowers said. “It was the highlight of our season, and Kristen’s.”
Cleveland’s record was 32-13 during the time Pickett was a key performer. She played 122 games, had 76 aces, 114 receptions, 424 digs, 308 assists, 487 kills and 29 blocks in a sensational career with the Lady Raiders.