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Effingham County's quiet Cailin Pritchard looking to roar as an Emmanuel College Lion
Cailin Pritchard

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

SPRINGFIELD — Cailin Pritchard started playing volleyball in sixth grade and just knew what the future could bring.

“I thought, this is my sport. I want to play this in college. And now that I know I’m going to college, it’s kind of crazy,” said the Effingham County senior who held a signing party Wednesday to announce her decision to play at Emmanuel College next fall.

Crazy isn’t always associated with the quiet, reserved 5-foot-11 middle hitter who stayed in character to say only, “thanks for coming out,” while addressing friends and family, front and center after signing papers.

Pritchard did her loudest talking on the Rebels volleyball court. 

She was the Region 2-6A Offensive Player of the Year after producing 311 kills with a .475 hitting percentage, 50 blocks and 108 service aces.

She finished her high school career with 1,068 kills. Her jump serve produced 291 career aces.

More importantly, she finished by leading ECHS to a 26-16 record, a region championship and a spot in the Sweet Sixteen of state.

“Being the senior year and winning the region championship, that was a great thing,” Pritchard said. “We knew as freshmen, by the time we were seniors, we’d have a chance to win.”

Rebels coach Brittany Lein said Pritchard and a talented group of freshmen led the program’s rebuilding efforts four years ago. Pritchard was a four-year starter.

“She had the skill and talent to be successful on varsity from the start,” Lein said. “We needed that position filled and she came in and did a good job and she kept getting better.”

And as a senior, she often dominated in the clutch. She had 16 kills in a big upset of Savannah Arts, a season-high 17 against Richmond Hill and 15 against two-time state champion Marist in the state Sweet Sixteen. 

Pritchard continued to hone her skills by playing with highly regarded teams Club Savannah, Upper Stars and Low Country Volleyball Club in the offseasons.

Now, she hopes to roar as a Lion. Emmanuel College, located about 30 miles northeast of Athens, plays in NCAA Division II’s Conference Carolinas.

Last fall, the Lions had a 24-8 record, 17-1 in conference play.

“(Emmanuel College and Franklin Springs) really reminded me of Effingham. I like little, small towns,” said Pritchard, who plans on studying business management before getting into a program for pharmacy.