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PIKEVILLE — Similar to a chemistry experiment, the union of a high school athlete and their college choice boils down to forming the perfect elixir.
Charles B. Aycock High multi-sport standout Arlanda Faulkner, by her own admission, can’t stop talking. So when she was seeking a home to continue her academic and volleyball career, the fit had to make sense from an on-floor and campus perspective.
Her worlds came together in the perfect manner recently when she signed a National Letter of Intent to play NCAA Division I volleyball at North Carolina Central of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
“Central’s atmosphere was definitely for me,” Faulkner said Thursday during a signing celebration in the CBA gymnasium. “The coaching style was definitely for me. The girls and I clicked like we’re family. So I definitely fit in there. It’s very upbeat and exciting, and it’s just somewhere where I can fit in and be myself.”
An outside hitter with the Lady Golden Falcons, Faulkner’s stats at times bordered on the obscene under the watchful eye of her mother and head coach, Tangela. During her senior season, Arlanda eclipsed the 500-kill mark and supplied a team-leading 52 aces. Over half of CBA’s kills came from her aggressive swinging arm, and her effect on a high school match was rarely limited to one spot on the floor.
“Just being a six-pin rotation player kind of helped me to have a great foundation all the way around,” Arlanda said. “I feel like more, if anything, people say that if I had to pick between offense and defense, I would pick defense. Because defense sets up the offense.”
As a senior, Arlanda led CBA to a 13-10 record and a 6-6 showing in the split 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference, tying the Lady Falcons for fourth place in the league.
With the Lady Eagles, Arlanda plans to focus on the technical aspects of volleyball, with little separating most college players in terms of raw talent level. Indeed, there’s plenty of talent emanating from the younger Faulkner, the CBA girls track record holder in the 55-meter hurdles, 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles.
“You’re definitely going to have to learn things like that before you can think you can excel anywhere in college,” Arlanda said.
Also the daughter of Jeremy Faulkner of Goldsboro, Arlanda hopes to enter NCCU’s nursing program.
If at any time Arlanda needed a sounding board from a former college athlete and a constant lesson in mental toughness, she didn’t have to look beyond her own roof. Tangela Faulkner was a two-sport standout in volleyball and women’s basketball at the University of Mount Olive and also coached Arlanda during travel volleyball with the Carolina Shockwave. The parent-daughter coaching relationship, including basketball at CBA, began when Arlanda was 13 years old.
“I’ve always told her I’ll never give her anything she didn’t deserve,” Coach Faulkner said. “She’s always had to work harder just to prove to me that she deserved to be out there. Not because she was my daughter, but because of her skills. I’m still very critical of her. I still critique her a whole lot. She can get a kill, and I’m still yelling at her.”