Setting sights on states

Q & A-- Becky Paynter, River Hill, Volleyball

October 24, 2007|By Glenn Graham | Glenn Graham,Sun reporter

It is not surprising setting came naturally to River Hill's Becky Paynter, considering her mother was a setter during her college days at William and Mary. In her second year on varsity, the junior has registered 355 assists (8.9 per game) and leads the Hawks in serving percentage (.970) and aces (59). Paynter started playing volleyball when she was 12 and also plays for the Maryland Juniors Volleyball Club.

Over the summer, she spent two weeks in China with her club team and said the experience and training she received have been invaluable in making her a better player. On Sept. 1, 2006, she injured her arm in a car accident and is still receiving physical therapy for reflexive sympathetic dystrophy, which she describes as shooting pain that occasionally goes from her neck to fingertips.

Paynter, who maintains a 3.88 grade point average, is a member of the National Honor Society and writes for the school yearbook. She also enjoys playing basketball and tennis and loves spending time with her family, especially when her older twin brothers - Rickey and Kennedy - are home from college. What do you like most about being the team's setter?

Having the chance to run the team and help everyone out is really cool. When we do well, I know I helped out because I'm usually the second person who touches the ball. So I guess it's the whole thing of seeing the team become one and being the middle person who helps make that happen.

What's the feeling like when you provide an ideal set? It's an adrenaline rush. Just awesome, kind of like your stomach dropping when you're on a roller coaster. It's just so much fun when you know it's going to get slammed. I'll set [senior hitter Maddi Lee], and it's like I know that's a good one and I know she's going to get that. And then, all of a sudden, you hear "boom," and it's down. It's just a great feeling. You're like, "Yes!"

What will it take to win a state title?

We had some new players, so at first I was actually a little worried about it. Then, all of a sudden, our first game, we played really well. Everything clicked, and we could immediately trust everyone. I think if we keep working hard and play like we did against Centennial and some of our other good games, we could definitely get to states and hopefully win it. We have to put all the little things together.

What has been the most rewarding experience you've had with the National Honor Society?

We had a Ghost Walk during my freshman year where we set up skits and stuff, and all these little kids come and we scare them. That was a lot of fun because you met all these little kids and they would be so scared and if they started getting too scared, you would take off your mask and they would be like, "Oh." It was just so cute because it was all these little kids that don't always get a chance to do a lot of fun stuff, so just being able to put a smile on their faces was really cool.

What was it like going to China this summer? At first, I was so scared because I didn't want to go by myself without my family. But then, finally, I was like: "I'll go. I mean, it's China." So I got on the plane and I was thinking, "This is bad." I was so upset, and then I got there and it took a while to get used to it. The training was so hard; it was so intense. I think everyone that was there, we all became a family, so we just got to be really good friends. The coaches we met couldn't speak English, but we would still somehow find a way to communicate, and it was great. So it was just like I'm playing with some of the best volleyball teams in the world because China is really good in volleyball. ... I think that's why I improved so much - just those two weeks - I came back and was like a different player. I think a lot of it was confidence.

How tough was it being so far away from your parents for the first time? It was really hard. I was all the way across the world, and it was a 12-hour difference. So when I was awake, they would be sleeping. I was like: "How am I going to talk to them?" So we would e-mail. And then the first time I remember waiting for my parents to call me, and it was so late and I was exhausted, and I sat there by the phone and was just staring at it. Finally, they called, and I picked it up and started crying because I was so happy to hear their voices.

What was the most interesting thing you ate over there? I had jellyfish. It was interesting. It tasted like noodles, but it felt weird in your mouth. People across the hall from us actually ate scorpion. I was like, "Hmm?"

What has it been like writing for the school yearbook?

At first, I thought this was just going to be a class where I just go do my homework and not really have to do anything. Then my teacher said you have a story due for this day and I was like, "Oh, my gosh." So I had to get quotes from all these freshmen and wrote this freshmen story. Usually they don't use the freshmen stories, but they're actually using all three of mine that I've written. So that's been exciting. When I get older, I'll look back at my high school yearbooks and read stories that I wrote. Just being able to give people the opportunity to remember the awesome stuff through high school - that's really cool. glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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