North Texas Daily

Johnson sets out to ‘prove people wrong’ for volleyball

Johnson sets out to ‘prove people wrong’ for volleyball

Johnson sets out to ‘prove people wrong’ for volleyball
November 18
12:00 2022

Sophomore outside hitter Aryn Johnson is one of several volleyball transfers from McNeese State University.

While head coach Kristee Porter, who was formerly at McNeese State, had a major impact on Johnson’s decision to join North Texas, she said the move was based on her own goals.

“When you are undersized and a woman of color, unfortunately, people tell you what you can and cannot do,” Johnson said. “Proving people wrong, beating the odds, no matter what my height is, no matter what the color of my skin is, I can achieve anything I put my mind to.”

In her first season as a member of the Mean Green, Johnson is performing at a high level. Against Louisiana Tech University, Johnson set a career-high with 26 kills, surpassing her 25 kill game against The University of Texas-San Antonio in the team’s previous matchup. Porter said when Johnson performs well, the entire team competes at a higher level.

“If you notice, statistically, we go the way she goes,” Porter said. “If she is having a great day, we have a great day as an overall team — when you have that type of responsibility it can be a heavy burden, but she handles it extremely well.”

In 2021, Johnson played for Porter on the Cowgirls, where she earned All-Southland Conference Second Team honors. Porter is one of only a few coaches who recruited Johnson regardless of her physical measurements.

“Coach Porter was the one coach that truly believed in me, who never doubted me because of my size or anything,” Johnson said. “She knew exactly what I was capable of from the beginning and our relationship has grown even more since I got here.”

Johnson and sophomore setter Ceci Harness have played together for seven consecutive seasons. Johnson said Harness’ decision to join North Texas influenced her to follow.

“We have been playing together since my freshmen year in high school and she is my favorite setter ever,” Johnson said. “I was excited when she announced that she was coming here, so it definitely contributed to me joining the team.”

Porter compared Johnson to North Texas legend Carnae Dillard, a former two-time Conference USA Player of the Year who holds several records for the volleyball team.

“She could be one of the best players in our conference — I like to compare her to [Dillard],” Porter said. “They have similar stature and similar presence on the court and when she met her, she also recognized the resemblance, which is the ultimate compliment.”

Sophomore outside hitter Andrea Owens and Johnson share the same position, allowing them to push each other during practice. Owens said the addition of Johnson has allowed her to improve her game as well as the team’s success.

“We are both outsides, but we are completely different volleyball players and practices have been a lot more competitive since she joined the team,” Owens said. “I feel like we’ve both made each other a lot better and that has made the team better.”

With multiple years of eligibility remaining, Johnson is expected to take over as the leader of the team for the coming seasons. Porter said the fact Johnson is only a sophomore is an advantage for the future of the program.

“I think she is going to be a big piece for the future of North Texas volleyball in building the success that we want to have,” Porter said. “We are looking for Aryn to carry a lot [of] the load for us and looking for her to be the leader of this team.”

For Johnson, the next couple of years are all about growth. Johnson said she wants to become the best possible volleyball player she can be and plans on winning a championship.

“I want to be the best I can be in everything I do because everything you do in life is an opportunity to grow and get better,” Johnson said. “Obviously, I want to get a ring, I want to win a championship and I know that we are capable of it.”

Featured Image: Aryn Johnson records six kills in Volleyball’s 3-0 victory over Middle Tennessee on Nov. 6, 2022. Photo by Andrew Hermes

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Dylan Fredericks

Dylan Fredericks

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