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BRYANT â€“ Two-time All-State and three-time All-Conference selection and Bryant Lady Hornet setter Hannah Rice is taking her talents South for the upcoming season. Rice signed a letter of intent to play volleyball for the Southern Arkansas University (Magnolia) Lady Muleriders on Wednesday at Bryant High School. There was little doubt in Rice's mind after visiting SAU.
"When I visited there, I loved the campus," Rice said. "I felt at home almost immediately. It wasnâ€™t too big or too small. It was the perfect size. Their volleyball team is really good and I wanted to be a part of it."
The Lady Muleriders play in the Great American Conference and finished tied for second this past season with a 23-12 overall record and an 11-3 conference mark. SAU Coach Steven Gream likes Rice's versatility.
"She has experience as both a back row player and setter which will provide us with some depth.," Gream said. "She comes from an excellent program. Bryantâ€™s been to the state tournament and sheâ€™s all-state so she brings a lot of experience. She has a solid serve and the fact she can play multiple positions is very valuable to us as well."
Rice led the Lady Hornets with 706 assists and 101 aces, and also had 272 digs and 66 kills out of the setter spot.
"I have had the pleasure of watching Hannah grow and develop into the player she is today over the last three years," Bryant Coach Beth Solomon said. "I can honestly tell you that I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve had a player come through that will work harder on the court to not let a ball touch the ground than Hannah Rice has.
"I can remember one game where Hannah was so determined to get to the ball that she literally hurdled another player who had dove for a ball. And in true Hannah fashion, she saved the play."
Rice has been the starting setter for the Lady Hornets since her sophomore year, but she didn't originally want to set. Necessity set in and Rice stepped up.
"I really wanted to go on the team as a passer because Iâ€™ve always wanted to pass," Rice said. "Solomon saw me at tryouts, I had set before, and she said, â€˜Have you set before?â€™
"At that tryout I worked really hard trying to impress her as a setter because I was just trying to make the team. Whatever you can do to get on the team. I guess it just stuck from there. Been setting ever since."
Planning to major in exercise science, Rice is also interested in psychology "because I really donâ€™t know what I want to do."
There's no doubt to Solomon what Rice has meant to Bryant volleyball.
"Hannah has been a vital asset in making the Bryant Volleyball program what it is today," Solomon said. " Not only has Hannah been a role model for her teammates, but she has also worked with our future players to help them gain the knowledge and skills of the game. Whoever takes over the number 11 jersey has some big shoes to fill."