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Walnut Ridge High School senior Sydney Burgin (center) signed to play volleyball at Williams Baptist University on Friday. Among those on hand for the signing were (front, from left): Leslie and Richie Burgin, WBU coach Michele Lawson, Chaz Burgin; (back) Athletic Director and WRHS Principal Jacob Kersey, Supt. Terry Belcher, WRHS assistant coach Shane Duncan and WRHS head coach Janna Berry.

Walnut Ridge High Schools senior Sydney Burgin was surrounded by family and friends as she signed to play volleyball with the Williams Baptist University Lady Eagles on Friday.

WRHS coach Janna Berry said Burgin has always been a setter for the Lady Cats.

“She has led our region … led our state as a setter,” Berry said. “She’s just a special player.”

The WRHS coach said Burgin is only her second player to earn All-State honors three years. An All-Conference selection every year since eighth-grade, she was also selected for this year’s All Star game.

She also led the Lady Cats in offense the last three years and was the second-leading defensive player. As a freshman, she stepped up to play in the state volleyball tournament with the senior high team.

Berry sad Burgin is a very versatile player, serving as left-side attacker when she wasn’t setting.

“She has the softest hands I’ve ever seen,” Berry added. “She is a hard worker and always wanted to do her best and lead her team. WBU is getting a good one.”

WBU coach Michele Lawson said it was definitely an exciting signing for the Lady Eagles.

“It’s always fun to sign someone local,” she said.

She said Burgin’s talent as a setter, along with her drive to play hard and do her best for he team, make her a great recruit for Williams.

Burgin said it was exciting to make her decision official.

“I feel blessed that I’m getting to play at the college level,” she said. “I knew in my heart that I wanted to stay at home, so that’s why I decided to stay at Williams.”

She credits Coach Berry for preparing her for this opportunity giving her other opportunities during her high school career that she didn’t necessarily think she could handle.

“In the end, I did because of her coaching abilities,” Burgin said. “She believed in me and that I could play to the best of my abilities.”

Burgin is a second-generation WBU athlete. Her parents are both alumni, and her father played baseball at Williams in the early 1990s.

Burgin is the daughter of Richie and Leslie Burgin. She has a brother, Chaz, who is a 2018 WRHS graduate. She is the granddaughter of Rhynea Debow of Walnut Ridge, Ike Debow of Sedgwick and Charles and Carol Burgin of Newport.

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