VA's Crawford signs with Arlington Baptist

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Van Alstyne's Janessa Crawford signs to play volleyball for Arlington Baptist.

VAN ALSTYNE — After being a part of the best team in school history, Janessa Crawford got more than just a taste of what it was like to compete at a high level on the volleyball court.

The Van Alstyne senior knew she wanted to continue pushing herself and keep playing after her final year as a Lady Panther and so Crawford made that official as she signed to play volleyball for Arlington Baptist University.

"I've been playing since fourth grade and club since sixth grade," Crawford said. "It's always been a dream of mine to play somewhere in college."

She chose the National Christian College Athletic Association program over Oklahoma Wesleyan and interest from several other schools.

"I wanted to stay close to home," Crawford said. "They reached out and I fell in love with it. It's a small campus. I really liked the coaches."

This past season Crawford was a first-team all-district selection in 9-4A with 162 kills, 182 digs, 28 blocks and 35 aces. Van Alstyne finished 14-10 after moving up to Class 4A and lost to eventual state semifinalist Kennedale in the bi-district round.

"It was more competitive, which is something we wanted," Crawford said. "We didn't know how it would go at first but we got better at the end."

As a junior Crawford helped Van Alstyne finish 37-5 and as the Class 3A runner-up. It was the best season in program history as the Lady Panthers made the state tournament for the second time and first since 1997.

She totaled 106 kills, 19 blocks and 59 digs and was honorable mention all-district after missing most of the first part of the season with an ankle injury.

"We have so many memories," Crawford said. "It all clicked right away. Being a part of that team was so much fun."

During her sophomore year she shared the District 10-3A Server of the Year Award with Leonard’s Mikayla Farber as Van Alstyne went 33-7 and made the region quarterfinals before losing against eventual state champion Callisburg.

It was the program’s first first appearance in the third round in three years.

Arlington Baptist went 6-11 this past fall and reached the NCCAA Southwest Regional Championship before losing to eventual national runner-up Dallas Christian.

The program made the NCCAA Final Four in 2015 and was part of the eight-team national championship bracket in 2019 as well as the Association of Christian College Athletics national champions from 2015-18.

"They have flexible players who can play anywhere and they think I fit that," Crawford said. "Playing anywhere on the front row, possibly the back row. Hopefully I can help them keep winning."