Taylor Bannister's journey to becoming an LSU Volleyball Superstar
BATON ROUGE - It's crazy to think LSU junior Volleyball player Taylor Bannister's journey to becoming a dominant force on the LSU Volleyball team almost didn't happen.
"She needs to understand how good she is," said LSU volleyball head coach Fran Flory. "When that happens, she'll be one of the greatest to ever play here."
As the daughter of two professional basketball players, Taylor stumbled into the sport in ninth grade.
"In middle school, I was doing basketball and track because we're a basketball family. You have to play basketball too. I just decided and told my mom, 'I want to do something different,'" said Bannister.
The only real option for the soft-spoken superstar was volleyball. That was when the real work began.
"She came in as a good athlete. A great athlete. Physically imposing at 6-5 with the ability to play above the net," said Flory. "Then she learned how to play volleyball at a different level."
"I haven't had as much years behind me as some of the other people that have been coming in, but I think I'm getting better as the year goes on," said Bannister.
Considering she has been an All-SEC Performer and the Louisiana Sports Writers Player of the year in both her first two seasons at LSU, that is a scary thought.
That success didn't come without sacrifice.
"She grew up in a culture of you have to earn your way through. It wasn't a privileged culture," said Flory.
"I missed hanging out with friends for opportunities with traveling. I missed my own prom," said Bannister. "I've learned to just miss little things in life, which allows me to go to bigger things in life."
One of the bigger things was being invited to play with the U.S. Collegiate National Team in Tokyo over the summer. When she returned, she not only came back with experience, but she had a new confidence in herself.
"Through the summer and the spring she has grown. When Taylor speaks, people listen. When she learns to understand that and becomes empowered by that, she'll be even more impactful," said Flory.
The Tigers begin their season Friday Aug. 30 at 4:30 against UT Arlington in game one of the Flo Hyman Collegiate Cup.