Team-first approach makes Pruitt valuable to LHS soccer, volleyball

kirkland-pruitt-elite-8

Lafayette senior Kirkland Pruitt, who plays soccer and volleyball, is a member of the 2016 Elite 8. Photo by Joey Brent

By John Davis, Sports Editor

Leadership, coupled with athleticism, are two of the things that make Kirkland Pruitt such an important member of the volleyball and soccer teams at Lafayette.

Pruitt plays libero for the Lady Commodores on the volleyball court, and coach Clint Jordan said she is a very hard worker.

“She is one of the best teammates I’ve ever coached. She values her peers, she values the relationships she has with others and she fosters those,” Jordan said. “She makes sure that they’re good and solid. The libero is really the defensive quarterback. She makes sure that we’re in the right spots and she calls off everybody for a fly ball like a shortstop on the infield. If a free ball comes over, and she gets to it, it’s hers. It’s important to have a person who understands when to go get it and when not to get it or when to help a teammate and when not to help. She’s very good at that.”

Pruitt doesn’t just excel at sports, she is also a fantastic student, with a grade point average well above 3.0.

“I have to work for it. There are some subjects that are easier to study for and some that I have to really study for,” she said. “Science is what I need to work for the most. And that’s any kind of science. It stresses me out. Then English is my best subject.”

Because volleyball runs into the start of soccer season, the hardest part for Pruitt was balancing out the practice schedules of both sports. Pruitt has played soccer since she was old enough for her parents to sign her up. She has played volleyball the past three years, and she has noticed her improvement there.

“I think I take in what the coaches tell me really well and I think that helps me learn with sports,” she said. “I like libero because I stay on the court the majority of the time. I really like being on the court so much. I get to see my whole team play because I’m in the back so much. It’s really nice seeing them all work together.”

The toughest part being a libero, Pruitt said, was judging where the hitter is going to attack with the ball. That goes for a kill, or a serve.

“It changes so much, it’s difficult at times,” Pruitt added.

Orianna Shaw called Pruitt “a joy” to play volleyball with each match because she is always smiling.

“She always wants somebody to be happy. When I come to practice, I’m always smiling because I see her,” Shaw said. “She can be tough, and she has to be with her position.”

Soccer is the sport Pruitt was hoping to have success at because her brothers all played. She also plays on defense in soccer, and she felt like the sport comes naturally to her. The success she has garnered in both school and in sports is a direct result of her parents.

“Both of them were very athletic when they were in school and then both of my brothers were both athletic, especially with soccer,” Pruitt said. “It wasn’t pushed on me to play sports, but I really wanted to. I feel like it challenges me to balance sports and school.”

Pruitt has a goal of playing soccer in college. Finding the team is still up in the air. Itawamba Community College has talked with Pruitt, who is also looking at a few other colleges out of state.

“I don’t mind going away. My mom is like go for it. Of course dad is like you can stay here,” Pruitt said.

Soccer season will be different than the ones the past few years. Alley Houghton is now playing at Ole Miss, and Pruitt said the team was really dependent on her to make plays.

“I think it’s good in a way that she is graduated because we’re learning to actually play as a team and not just strictly depend on her,” Pruitt said. “We can actually depend on each other and not just one single player. I think we struggled in some of our games because we depended on her too much. I think we know how to win. The team we have now, we’ve been playing together for so long and we all mesh well together. The ones on the varsity team pretty much play club and we get extra practice. I think we’ll do well.”

LHS soccer coach Melinda Scruggs said the thing she likes about Pruitt is she makes sure the team is involved first before herself.

“Now that she is a senior for me, the thing that is standing out is how she leads by example in fitness and how she trains and how she presents things to the team,” Scruggs said. “It’s always about the team, never about herself. She is crucial to what we do. When she’s not on the field, you’re going to see a big difference. Her presence on the field is something we need to have in order for us to be successful. She is the one that’s going to be grounded in the back for us at center back and she is going to be leader back there and run whatever system we’re playing.”

john.davis@journalinc.com

Twitter: @oxfordcitizenjd



About John Davis

Eighteen years in the business. Dedicated to providing the best local content for sports. Oxford, Lafayette, Ole Miss, youth sports, outdoors and the things nobody else wants to cover.