Longmont senior Payton Jonason has the look of a standout volleyball talent.
And, well, the sound of one, too.
Back when she first committed to Palm Beach Atlantic as a junior, her future college coach likened the senior’s arm talent to the sound of an explosion.
These were the very same blasts that were felt and heard as she soared on the court in the spring despite a season otherwise marred in difficulties and growing pains for the Trojans.
“I hope everyone is ready to hear cannon fire inside Rubin Arena starting the fall of 2021,” PBA coach Doug Walters told the school’s athletic site in November.
Jonason chuckled at the verbiage: cannon. “I have no idea where that comes from. A lot of people say that. It’s funny.”
And it’s rather daunting, too.
Touting undeniable power, Jonason plays much taller than her 6-foot stature and she rises high above the net as such.
She ended up thumping 5.1 kills per set this spring — an entire kill more than any other girl from the area, per MaxPreps — as she led a young team through a season that included a late coaching change and an early team quarantine. Her numbers, part of the reason she was named BoCoPreps.com player of the year for this 2021 spring season, were impossible to ignore.
Over 40 sets played, Jonason finished with 202 kills on 400 attempts, or 50.5% accuracy. Mead’s Quincey Coyle was the only other 4A player to have more than 200 kills on a more than 50% kill percentage.
Following a 29-kill performance in a loss to Niwot in early April, Longmont interim coach Aaron Herbert was among those in awe of the Trojans’ star. His praise went far beyond Jonason’s high-decibel winners.
“Payton is the kind of player every coach hopes to have on their team,” Herbert said. “She’s an all-around player and is great outside the court as a person. Girls look up to her. She’s kind, she’s sweet and she’s the first person to go and help people.”
While being the team’s attacking leader, the senior was also the Trojans’ unquestioned leader throughout. She played on both rows, and by the end of the spring, she led the team in hitting percentage (.420), digs (126) and was tied for the team lead in aces (28).
Longmont finished 5-3 in a tough 5A/4A NCAC that saw two teams go to the state semifinals. Late-season cancellations from opponents ended up hurting its chances of qualifying for the regional tournament.
“Honestly this season was so good for us and especially our younger girls, perseverance-wise,” Jonason said. “Now in the future, they’re expecting a lot more.”
Jonason was named the player of the year among a talented crop of players from the NCAC. She finished her career with 888 kills, 100 aces and 358 digs.
In the fall, she plans on playing for Palm Beach Atlantic. The Sailfish have been a consistent top-25 team in Division II and have made the DII national tournament twice since joining the NCAA in 2012.