The Emmanuel Christian pipeline to Judson College continues.
For the fourth time in the last six years and the third in the last two years, an Emmanuel Christian athlete will sign to play at the Alabama all-girls school in Marion.
The latest is volleyball standout Kendell Sanders. She will be the first to sign for volleyball as the previous three signed in softball (Lillie Hobson, 2014; Lauren Atkinson, 2018; and Reagan Thomas, last fall).
“I am super excited,” Sanders said. “I was really nervous at first. I didn’t know if I wanted to do it, but this year of volleyball being my last year (in high school), it really made me want to do it, so I am excited that I get the chance (to play in college).”
Sanders had planned to sign with Judson in April, but state-mandated coronavirus restrictions put the signing ceremony on hold. With the state now loosening restrictions, she hopes to have a signing ceremony in the next two weeks.
The Warrior senior has played volleyball since her seventh grade year at Carver Magnet School in Dothan. She transferred to Emmanuel Christian for her eighth grade year before her family moved to Vail, Colo. They returned to Dothan in the middle of her junior year, but after volleyball season, leaving just her senior year of playing at ECS.
While in Vail, she played at Eagle Valley High School and was a four-year member of the Vail Volleyball Club national qualifying team.
Emmanuel Christian head coach Seth Redmond said Sanders was a successful middle blocker and outside hitter for the Warriors this past season in earning East Regional Panhandle Christian Conference honors. Sanders said her height and jumping ability helped her in those two positions.
“I think it is a mixture of both (height and jumping) because I am 5-foot-9, so I am not super tall, but (I have) pretty good height and I have pretty good jumping as well. My vertical is 7 feet, 6 inches or 7 feet, 8 inches,” Sanders said.
Redmond described Sanders as a strong overall player and the ultimate teammate, constantly making her teammates better with her play and her leadership.
“She was a strong player, a leader on the floor,” Redmond said. “She brought a lot of skill that was needed and she was able to spread that around to the other players to work with those who needed extra assistance. She was a team player.
“She didn’t try to make the game about herself even though she was one of the best players we had on the floor. She was willing to play in whatever position we needed her in on that night. She was willing to take criticism well, willing to make adjustments whenever we said, ‘Hey, let’s try this a different way.’”
In addition to an ability to block and spike at the net, Sanders was also solid in serves for ECS, said Redmond.
“The biggest things she contributed were consistency and also motivation to the rest of the team,” Redmond said.
Sanders visited the Judson campus in November and came away impressed with the school and the volleyball program, led by head coach Cynthia White. She also considered attending Gulf Coast Community College, Auburn (academics) and Colorado State.
“When I went and toured the campus, I loved how small the campus was and how small the numbers in the classes were,” Sanders said. “Then I got to talk to the coach and meet some of the girls on the team and it was just a welcoming community. I realized I wanted to go there.”
Redmond said the recent trend of Emmanuel Christian athletes attending Judson has been good for both programs.
“We have a pretty good relationship with the coaches (at Judson),” Redmond said. “They have been pleased with the athletes and the student side of the athlete that we have sent them also. It is a good relationship, one we hope we can keep on for a while.”