Next season's Peach Belt Conference volleyball programs figure to be ripe with Longhorns.
Lambert had nine seniors sign Wednesday at its spring ceremony, including a pair of volleyball players in Miranda Hardin [Lander University] and Rojina Jafari Naeini [Young Harris College], who will meet next season as conference opponents.
But Hardin and Jafari Naeini aren't the only Lambert alumni in the Peach Belt.
"Actually, Sarah Black who signed in the fall, she's also in the Peach Belt Conference with us," Hardin said. "They took a lot from Lambert, and it's fun because now I get to see a bunch of teammates through the net next year."
Hardin and Jafari Naeini were key parts of Lambert's 2020 Class 7A Final Four team, which captured a Region 6-7A championship and fell one set shy of a state championship berth.
Hardin, a libero, averaged 4.1 digs per set and tallied 48 aces.
"For a long time, I didn't think I was going to make it because of COVID and it just took so long," Hardin said of the recruiting process. "Then this past club season, a girl on my travel team is going to Lander, and so they came to watch her and they saw me and loved what they saw. They just immediately brought me on for an official visit and offered me there, and from there that's when I knew."
Hardin said her favorite memory while at Lambert came when a teammate gave her a nickname — one that will follow her to Lander University.
"I believe it was Haley Horton, who was a [junior] at the time, and she gave me the nickname 'Randy.' It just stuck," Hardin said. "Even the girls at Lander, that's what they're calling me already. It's only sports, so everybody else hates it, but sports-wise they love it. I have so many memories tied back to it that my nickname had to be my favorite part."
Lambert's cross country and track programs also had a pair of teammates sign, as Cooper Bocko signed with the University of Georgia and Colin Chapman signed with Wake Forest University.
"He's been a great teammate to me, and we've both made each other better," Chapman said. "Without him I wouldn't be where I am, and I'm sure he'd say the same thing. I think it goes to show the coaching of Coach [James] Tigue has really helped us get to the level where we're at."
Chapman ran a season-best 15:46 on Oct. 17 in the Coach Wood Invitational and finished 43rd overall at the Class 7A state championship meet.
Bocko set the school's 5K record at the same race one year prior, running a 15:22.
On Wednesday, the two shared the stage and signed to Division I programs.
"It's been really special," Chapman said. "It's kind of sad, you know, I would have loved to have teamed with Cooper in college, but the good news is we're still in the Southeast and we'll be able to race each other plenty of times. I'll be able to train with him over the summer and everything."
Brooke Despriet, the reigning Forsyth County News Player of the Year, signed with Sewanee: The University of the South [Tenn.]. Despriet helped Lambert's girls tennis team to the Class 7A state championship match behind a 16-1 record at No. 1 singles.
Shreya Munchi signed to Southern Connecticut State University's gymnastics program after finishing second in all-around during the Forsyth County championship in March. Munchi scored a 37.050 all-around score and finished second in the vault with a 9.600.
Mason Barnes signed with Life University after averaging 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals per game as a senior. Miller Bustamante signed to play football at Point University and James Cash signed to play soccer at Piedmont College.