Prep volleyball | Manatee's Kayla Armer is Herald All-Area Player of the Year

Armer finds calling by accident, becomes area's best player

jdill@bradenton.comDecember 23, 2012 

BRADENTON -- She can smash spikes.

She can catch opponents off-guard with lethal tip shots.

Usually, though, you can spot her setting up her teammates for the kill.

It was Kayla Armer's versatility that made her this year's Herald All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year.

"It was kind of hard at first, because there is a lot of different footwork," Armer said of becoming a setter. "And mentally it is different. Usually the hitters are the ones that get all the glory. And setters, you don't get as much of that. So that was hard to transition into, but now I think it was for the better. And I love setting. I don't think I would want to play another position."

Armer's career prior to life as a Manatee Hurricane saw her shifting between outside and middle hitter.

Then an epiphany came during practice as a Manatee freshman.

The club was struggling, and then-head coach Jessica Hinkle instructed the entire team to perform setting drills.

That's where Armer, whose height (6-foot) is usually reserved for a hitting position, found her calling.

"They'd never seen me set before," Armer said. "And I just started setting against the wall. And (the coaches) were like, 'Wow, you have really good setting hands. Let's try you a couple times.' So we did a couple

drills with me setting instead of the other girls. We tried a couple other people also, but for whatever reason I was good at it, and it stuck."

As her skill set continued to blossom, Armer kept grinding away at the position, eventually becoming the county's best. Armer was named the Manatee County Tournament Most Valuable Player in her junior year. And she backed it up again this fall with yet another MVP selection.

Meanwhile, her team flourished in 2012, winning 20 regular-season straight matches and earning the program's first appearance in the region round of the state tournament in four years.

And it was Armer driving the Manatee machine. But while the Hurricanes' season finished at 23-4 in the region quarterfinal, Armer's fall wasn't quite over.

She put pen to paper when she signed with Houston Baptist University in November, opting to continue her volleyball career outside the Sunshine State. Armer also received offers from Saint Leo and Barry.

"I just wanted to do something new, and I knew (Houston Baptist) was a great opportunity," Armer said. " ... I know my personality. I want to experience new things and meet new people."

This all came while the program played second fiddle to the football team's chase for a mythical national championship.

It didn't seem to bother Armer, who played lights out to lead Manatee to the postseason and the county title after the Canes swept Class 6A semifinalist Lakewood Ranch in the final.

"We definitely don't get as much attention as the football team did," Armer said. "But it was still fun. We still supported them. And I know some football players came to our games."

But for all the accolades garnered over a standout prep career, there's just one regret for Armer -- the team's inability to beat rival Venice.

It wasn't for lack of trying, though. The perennial powerhouse Indians knocked off the Canes in a classic five-game district championship match, and Armer passed out 45 assists.

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service