Four standout Lady Panthers took the next step in their academic and athletic careers on Thursday, as volleyball players Kayedon Mattingly and Lexi Owen, softball player Jessie Daniels and basketball player Adylan Ayer all celebrated their college signings
After orchestrating Daviess County’s offense for four years, setter Lexi Owen won’t be going far from home to continue her athletic career after signing with the University of Evansville.
Owen has been anxiously awaiting this signing, saying that it feels great to officially have her new school set in stone. Along with it being just 45 minutes from home, Owen is excited to join such a diverse program at Evansville.
“Location, the volleyball program and the coaching staff is insane…” Owen said. “Definitely the people from different countries [too]. There’s three from Puerto Rico, and someone from Brazil and Argentina. I just think that’s what I’m most excited for.”
She will be joining familiar company in Head Coach Fernando Morales, as he has coach Owen on the Evansville United club team. Having a little extra familiarity with the university didn’t hurt, as Owen is excited to be join a program she’s fallen in love with.
“My travel team is Evansville so he was actually my coach last year and got to see me play obviously,” Owen said. “Then we actually practiced on the campus, so I’ve been around it for awhile and fell in love with it.”
The future Purple Ace that will be studying business and marketing is coming off a stellar senior season, having eclipsed the 1,000 career assist mark while racking up 596 of them in the season alone to go along with 121 digs, 69 blocks and 65 kills. Owen is ready to move on to volleyball at the next level, but as she celebrated with her teammates by her side she made sure to acknowledge just how hard it will be to not compete with her Lady Panther family.
“Definitely going to miss my teammates,” Owen said. “Everyone is leaving and going to different places so that’s going to be a big part. Not only are they my teammates, they’re my best friends and we hang out every single week.”
After four strong years with Daviess County on the volleyball and basketball court, guard Adylan Ayer will take her sharpshooting on to Maryville University in the next phase of her athletic career.
Ayer said it’s a big relief to have officially signed and be done with the recruiting process, as she’s excited to join a coaching staff that is thoroughly excited to have her come aboard.
“When I first went there and visited it felt like home and the coaching staff was super welcoming,” Ayer said. “I could tell they wanted me to be a part of their team this season and thought I could do good things for their program.”
The future Saint is looking forward to facing a higher level of competition and said she is blessed to be able to play four more years of the sports she loves. Ayer went to watch Maryville in action a few times during her recruitment and after seeing the way that they played, she was sold.
“I had been there for a couple games and I watched them before I committed and I was like, yeah this is my style of basketball,” Ayer said. “They like to play fast and push in transition. They want to be guard-oriented… That’s kind of my cup of tea.”
The future Saint is looking forward to facing a higher level of competition and said she is blessed to be able to play four more years of the sports she loves. But before then, Ayer has a senior season to finish—in which she’s looking to help the Lady Panthers make a late season push.
The senior guard has been averaging 19.8 ppg and 5.5 rpg, while having surpassed the 1,000 point mark of her career—with the chance of passing 1,500 in the next eight games. Daviess County Head Coach Stephen Haile spoke about just how proud the program is of their point guard and is excited to see what the rest of the season and Ayer’s future has in store.
That kind of bond that Ayer has built with her teammates and coaches over the years is what makes moving on the next level a little bittersweet, but she knows she’ll never forget her time as a Lady Panther and is ready to go to work at Maryville.
“I’ll always remember Daviess County,” Ayer said. “Since freshman year I’ve played volleyball and basketball here, so I’ve made a lot of memories, friends and made a lot of connections with the coaches, teammates and everything.”
While Kayedon Mattingly will admit it’s not something she ever really expected, the senior Lady Panther is excited to make her commitment to Midway University volleyball official.
“It feels unreal,” Mattingly said. “It honestly does because I’ve only been playing for about four years. So it’s a little unreal for me, but I’m so excited.”
It was Head Coach Tyla Bailey that convinced Mattingly to join volleyball in class, after she had been competing as a swimmer exclusively before arriving at Daviess County.
“Coach T,” Mattingly said. “She kind of just came up to me in a gym class and was like ‘hey I’d love to have you at a practice with us,’ and I was like, ‘ok.’”
Kayedon took on a larger role in her senior season in the front lines of the Lady Panthers, getting 76 blocks and 18 kills in 71 sets this year. She said that she is thankful for the opportunity her coaches and teammates helped her excel in, noting that she wouldn’t be here without them or her family.
“I just enjoyed how we’re best friends on and off the court,” Mattingly said. “They treat me the same if I were to see them in the hallway that they do practicing on the court together. And gamedays were super fun to me.”
Mattingly initially visited Midway for academics, but as her senior season unfolded she went back for a visit with the team and felt at home. She is looking forward to continuing to improve her game, while making friends as she takes her talents to the collegiate level.
“I had a visit with the college over fall break and the coach invited me back during November for an official visit,” Mattingly said. “I got to play with the team and it was just a really great experience. It felt like a family there.”
Daniels has become a key factor in Daviess County’s recent success, being a self-proclaimed late bloomer that has electrified their lineup while also switching from middle infield to first base.
“Her sophomore year, the way she kind of came on to and with her power and being able to protect some of our other hitters, it was just amazing how she improved and made that big jump,” Head Coach John Biggs said. “She doesn’t really get a lot of credit for her defensive skills. She’s worked extremely hard there at first base.”
Biggs said that they always knew Jessie would physically and athletically be capable of contributing, but it was her work ethic and leadership that has helped shape as the player she is today.
“Even being a non-senior that sophomore year and even continuing last year in her junior year, she became a vocal leader for us,” Biggs said. “That’s important and we’ve talked about how leadership doesn’t have to be from seniors. It can be from anyone.”
Daniels is excited to have the stress of the recruiting process behind her, as the Campbellsville program has her ready to make the jump to the next level.
“I think it was like the summer before my sophomore year was when Campbellsville started to recruit me and I think I kind of knew from the beginning that I was like ‘I like these people’…” Daniels said. “I loved the campus, I loved the people,” Daniels said. “I’ve been to camps and I’ve talked to players and I’ve never heard anything bad. Then the day that it happened I was like, this is what I want. I’m ready to make the decision now. It just felt right. Everything felt so homey when I was there.”
But before she makes her way to join Campbellsville, Daniels will look to pick up where she left off in 2021—where she posted a team-leading .467 batting average, while mashing 15 home runs and tallying 39 RBIs en route to winning 3rd Region Player of the Year. She hopes to continue to improve at the plate and help go on a long postseason run once again, excited for her senior season with the Lady Panthers.