By Angel Verdejo
Killeen Daily Herald
GATESVILLE - Everyone got the memo about Kaitlin Poe's signing ceremony Tuesday afternoon.
Everyone except her little sister.
Poe was introduced first to the gathered crowd of family, friends and coaches, but when it came time for family pictures, Gatesville's standout setter waited until younger sister Brianna was called out of class.
Minutes later, all was well. Family members were accounted for and Poe signed her letter of intent with Hill College to play volleyball.
Poe shared the stage with Glynna Johnson, who signed with Northwestern State a few weeks ago. They are the fourth pair of Hornet volleyball players to sign in the same school year since 2003 and the 10th and 11th players to move on to the college ranks.
"Those two guys have definitely put in so much time - so much extra time - that a lot of (players) would never understand," said Gatesville head coach Rickey Phillips, whose program has had players sign every year since 2008. "Man you hate to lose those guys like you hate to lose everybody, but at the same boat you're proud for them because they get a chance that a lot of guys wished they had."
Getting that chance helped Poe move forward from the way Gatesville's season ended. The Hornets were once again one of the best in the state, but saw their year again in the region semifinals for the second year in a row.
The loss was hard for the senior class - a group that expected 2011 to be its year to reach the state tournament.
"It was heartbreaking, but it was good to know that I would still be able to keep going and make myself better at it," said Poe, a two-time district setter of the year and first-team all-state pick this season.
Poe's connection to Hill College comes through her club team. She and Johnson both play for the Waco Juniors and one of their coaches is Jeremiah Tiffin, the second-year head coach at Hill College.
Two of Poe's former club teammates - Copperas Cove's Phyllicia Cross and Rogers' Cayleigh Drake – just finished their freshmen season at Hill College.
"I was comfortable with the coach ... and I was going to be comfortable with a bunch of the teammates already. And I like the campus a lot," said Poe, who plans to transfer to Texas A&M after two years and may look into playing volleyball for the Aggies if the opportunity presents itself.
Poe averaged 31.2 assists per match, with most of those going to Johnson. She averaged 19.7 kills per match while also leading Gatesville in blocks and aces.
The 6-foot-3 middle blocker continues to add to a long list of accolades - Johnson is one of two local standouts named to play in the Texas Girls Coaches Association All-Star Games in July (Cove's Amy Rosenbaum is the other).
Johnson was also named all-state to go along with being selected as the 19-3A MVP.
"It's really exciting just because I can kind of relax more and just have fun in all the other sports I'm doing," Johnson said. "I've been waiting but it wasn't that bad because I already knew. But it's still exciting to be officially going there."