Van Alstyne's Sullivan headed to Howard Payne

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Van Alstyne senior Sydney Sullivan will play volleyball for Howard Payne after her standout career for the Lady Panthers.

VAN ALSTYNE — Despite a busy end to her senior year, Sydney Sullivan found time to map out her future plans.

The multi-talented Sullivan has helped two Van Alstyne sports make regional appearances within the last month but it is her play on the court in the fall that has determined her path in college as Sullivan announced her decision to play volleyball for Howard Payne University.

She chose the Division III program after a late push by head coach Colleen Westfall.

“With everything going on I had to figure out a day to set up a visit and she was very accommodating and made it known she wanted me and that I would fit in on the team,” Sullivan said. “Howard Payne ended up being the place for me. I got to know the girls and I thought our personalities were very similar.”

Even though her opportunity to play in college didn’t materialize until well after the season ended, Sullivan was happy to have everything worked out.

“It’s always been a dream. Since the season ended I realized how much I missed it. When I got my hands on a volleyball, there’s so much joy,” Sullivan said. “I wanted to keep playing.”

Sullivan stepped into the libero role as a senior after having previously served as a defensive specialist.

She was a second-team all-district selection in 9-4A and finished with 239 digs and 69 assists and 28 aces. Van Alstyne finished 14-10 after moving up to Class 4A and lost to eventual state semifinalist Kennedale in the bi-district round.

As a junior, she was also named second-team all-district and helped the Lady Panthers have the best season in school history as Van Alstyne went 37-5 and was the Class 3A runner-up. Sullivan had 243 digs, 35 aces and 33 kills.

It was the second time and first since 1997 that the Lady Panthers made the state tournament.

In addition to volleyball, Sullivan also plays tennis and softball and participates in VA’s Athletic Training Student Aide program.

“To be honest, I don’t know how I do it,” she said. “I’ve been doing so many things all my life that basically it has become pretty normal. I’m in the moment and I give 110 percent no matter what it is.”

Late last month she reached the quarterfinals in girls singles at the Class 4A Region II tennis tournament after winning a play-back in the District 9-4A tourney and is currently helping the softball team to its best season since 1998 with a trip to the region semifinals.

“Just being able to play as long as I have is amazing because a lot of people don’t get to do it,” Sullivan said. “And I get to do it in all three of my sports.”

Howard Payne went 3-19 this past season and 0-18 in American Southwest Conference play. In 2016, the Lady Jackets made the American Southwest Conference tournament for the first time in 16 years.