College volleyball: Rymer is part of the National Championship team and an All-American – Salisbury Post
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE – Kira Rymer is quick to tell you that the best athlete in the family is her younger sister Bethany, a senior southpaw from South Rowan who can run all day and shoot basketball all night.
But Kira is not bad. Not bad at all.
When she got home from college this week for vacation hugs with the family, she did so with an armful of ribbons, medals and plaques. She is the national volleyball and All-American champion.
Rymer, a South Rowan graduate and valedictorian for the Class of 2020, is a sophomore at Columbia International University, a small school in Columbia, South Carolina, which has about 700 students on campus. This makes it a smaller community than South Rowan High. It’s ideal for Rymer.
“I’m a bit of an extrovert, one of those people who says hello to everyone,” she said. “So it’s nice to know a high percentage of students. “
A long time ago, Columbia International was known as Columbia Bible College. It’s still very conservative, very traditional, very Bible-centered. The standards for academics and behavior are considerably higher than in most places, so this is not the right place for everyone.
But it was the right fit for Rymer, who visited a plethora of schools, most of them larger and better known, before making his final decision for the university.
“Volleyball is just a part of college life,” she said. “I wanted to find the right person socially and academically, and I wouldn’t change my decision. It was a great decision. I believe God led me to Columbia International.
Like many other small private schools, Columbia International has found that building successful sports teams can generate donations, community interest, and student interest.
Columbia International competes in two different worlds – with fellow NAIA schools, but also as a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association, where the Rams are emerging as a powerhouse.
The Columbia International baseball team qualified for the NCCAA championship in May.
Rymer was one of the stars of the Columbia International volleyball team which recently gave the school its second NCCAA Championship of 2021.
When Rymer signed with Columbia International, she knew the volleyball program would be good and that she would have a shot at competing for the conference championships, but things really took off.
“The coaches did a great job recruiting,” said Rymer. “They brought in a 6-foot-4 center tackle and a 6-foot-6 outside hitter from Brazil. I hadn’t imagined something like this when I first came here, but I learned a lot of different skills in high school and used them to fit in.
At 5-foot-11, Rymer towered over most of his South Rowan teammates and typically killed through the middle.
With so much height in the Columbia International team, she moved to the right side of the Rams. She has had tremendous success.
In the freshman, she was second on the team in kills and third in blocks. Her hitting percentages and winning percentages placed her in the NCCAA National Top 10 and she was honored as an All-South Region as well as All-Appalachian Athletic Conference. Columbia International has qualified for the NCCAA National Championships in Minnesota.
As the program progressed during Rymer’s freshman season, it jumped even bigger this fall.
The team flew to Oregon for their first-ever appearance at the NAIA National Championships, and when Columbia International was eliminated in Oregon, they returned two weeks later to win the NCCAA National Championship in the Missouri. The team traveled by van to Missouri, so it was a long drive. But the Rams went undefeated in the tournament to end the season with a 34-9 record.
“We played really well as a team in Missouri,” said Rymer. “We had faced stronger teams this season than we saw there. “
Rymer had nine kills and blocks in the semifinals and 11 kills and four blocks in the National Championship game against Mid-America University of Oklahoma.
Rymer totaled 441 kills for the season, the third-highest total in program history. She repeated her title as the Southern Region Player of the Year and was once again a part of the all-conference first team.
She was named to the NCCAA America’s First All-Star Team and was part of the Tournament All-Star Team for the National Championships.
She was also named Honorable Mention All-American for NAIA.
She’ll be looking forward to repeating all of those honors as a junior, but the award she received that most excited her was a team award, not a national award.
“I got the character award for our team,” said Rymer. “It meant the most. “