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FMU checks all boxes for Wells

Posted: November 21, 2017 1:10 p.m.
Updated: November 24, 2017 1:00 a.m.

LUGOFF-ELGIN’S P.A. WELLS signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her academic and volleyball pursuits at Francis Marion University while joined by her mother, Michele Pressley. Looking on from behind, from left, are L-E athletic director Matt Campbell, Lady Demons’ assistant volleyball coach Von Duncan, L-E head volleyball coach Katie Ham and L-E principal Worth Thomasson.

It is hard not to get caught up watching the free swingers in volleyball; those players who can smash the ball to the floor with their arms towering above the net.

In the same vein, those players who make things happen along the back row can get lost in the shuffle by those with untrained eyes.

For the past three seasons, P.A. Wells has been one of the shortest players on Lugoff-Elgin’s varsity roster. When it comes to making plays, however, she stands as tall as an outside hitter. That fact was not lost on the coaches in Region 6-4A who voted Wells to the all-conference team. Her talents did not go unnoticed by college coaches, either.

In the end, Wells made the decision to continue her on and off court college pursuits at Francis Marion University. She signed with the Patriots two weeks ago on National Signing Day in a ceremony held inside L-E’s Wellness Center.

The decision to cast her lot with the Division II program, Wells said, was a fairly easy one.

“I decided to go to Francis Marion because it is a great school and it has my major which is biology. I want to be a physical therapist,” said the Lady Demon senior of her present and future plans. “They have a great team and a new coach, in Lauren Baufield, who is doing a lot of great things with the program. I think it is the best place for me.”

Listed as a defensive specialist while at L-E, Wells was second on the team with 271 serves received this past year in helping Katie Ham’s charges to a 6-4A title and into the semifinals of the 4A Lower State playoffs. Her 255 digs were third on the team. She also rang up 58 service aces with nearly 93 percent of her serves being successful.

Ham said those numbers did not come by accident.

“P.A. is a hard worker who is very goal-oriented. She puts in the time on the court, off the court and behind the scenes. She is just a great teammate,” said the third-year Lady Demon head coach.

When recruiting Wells to come to FMU’s Florence campus, Baufield told her newest signee that her skill set was just what the Patriots were looking for and needed. Wells expects to stay as a defensive specialist in college. “They said that they liked how I play and said that I would be a great fit for the team. I’m really excited,” Wells said.

“Francis Marion recruited her for her defense,” Ham said of Wells. “She has great footwork on the court and makes great reads on the ball.”

Wells first took up volleyball when she was nine and played recreational league ball. In the summer, she would attend volleyball camps held at L-E which were run by the Lady Demon coaching staff and players. Shortly thereafter, she played club volleyball and has never looked back.

“I started getting involved with club ball when I was about 12 or 13 and I just loved it,” she said.

Playing volleyball and the commitment one must make to play at the collegiate level is something which Wells has waited for and she is eager to get into the flow once she arrives on campus this summer.

“College volleyball is faster and more intense,” she said. “You have 5 a.m. workouts so there is definitely more of a commitment which, I think, I’m ready for.”

While she has an idea of what to expect on the court, Wells said, like any freshman, she will have to make the adjustment to being away from home and being on her own for the first time. In the same breath, she said this is what she had worked for and was ready to do whatever it takes in order to be a success on and off the volleyball court.

“This was always my goal,” she said of playing volleyball in college. “I told myself that this was my dream and I wanted to do it. I am so excited. I guess that I am anxious but I am so excited. I just can’t believe that it’s here.”

Ham played a role in helping P.A. Wells’ dream of playing college volleyball come true. On this signing day, she sent off two of her seniors, Wells and Natalie Taylor (who inked with Newberry.) You might have thought this would have been a bittersweet occasion for Ham. Instead, she was beaming with pride after the ink had dried on both players’ letters of intent.

“It’s a little bit (sad),” she said of losing two players, “but this is what they want and this is what they have worked for. It’s a proud moment for a coach.

“This is exciting,” she added. “I don’t consider this losing players. I am here to help build them to get to the next level and that’s what we have done. These are my first two babies … I’m proud of them.”



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