Legacy Islanders Volleyball Star Kyndal Payne ’25 Excels as Stellar Biomedical Sciences Student

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – When biomedical science junior Kyndal Payne ’25 was in high school, she would often make the long trip from her North Texas hometown of Haslet, Texas, to Corpus Christi to see her older sister, Kaylee Payne ’20, play for the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Islanders Volleyball team. A fan as well as a competitive player herself, Kyndal was in the stands the day that Kaylee and the Islanders won the 2020 Southland Conference Tournament, which was hosted by the Island University. 

Today, Kyndal is an ace outside hitter for the Islanders Volleyball team with strong season-high stats to date: 21 kills against Northwestern State University, five assists in the University of Portland game, and 23.5 points against Texas A&M-Prairie View. In October, Payne was named Offensive Player of the Week twice. Payne currently leads the team in nearly every offensive statistical category. In honor of her accomplishments, Kyndal’s banner was put up in the Dugan Wellness Center earlier this month.

Payne said she’s proud to follow in her sister’s footsteps.

“Kaylee came here when I was a sophomore in high school. I used to come down on the weekends to watch her play, and I just fell in love with the Island University,” Kyndal Payne said. “It was always really exciting for me to come here and visit. And then once it was finally my turn, TAMU-CC has lived up to everything I imagined it would be.”

As a first-year student-athlete in 2021, Kyndal helped the Islanders win an SLC Championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament. Last year, Kyndal was named an All-America Honorable Mention; she was also the 2022 SLC Player of the Year.

As formidable an athlete as she is, Payne is equally tenacious when it comes to her studies. Payne was on the 2022 Southland All-Academic First-Team with a cumulative 3.88 GPA, and she was also on the 2023 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.

“Kyndal is a great example and mentor to other student athletes and recruits in many ways,” said Women’s Volleyball Head Coach Steve Greene. “She shows that she can have a great life balance while still achieving all of her academic and athletic goals.”   

Payne said her sister’s career as a nurse coupled with a general interest in health care inspired her to select biomedical sciences as a major. Payne is currently taking 15 credit hours, including her favorite course so far, contemporary scientific readings.

“Every three to four weeks, we read a new book and have insightful conversations with other students in the course,” Payne said. “My favorite professor is Dr. Xavier Gonzales. I am taking his health disparities and scientific readings courses and I took his biology of cancer course last spring. Dr. Gonzales encourages his students to ‘learn how to learn’ and guides us through this process while maximizing the amount of content we retain.”

Payne said one of the most important factors for all student-athletes is time management. Keeping track of reading assignments, projects, papers, and exam schedules in addition to an intense practice and game schedule requires a great deal of focus. Payne relies on a calendar that lists her day-to-day activities and all other obligations.

“We’re on the road for four days out of the week, about every other week. And that entails missing a lot of class and having to make up assignments and staying on top of homework,” Payne said. “But it’s such a rewarding experience because I know that once I graduate, I’m going to have an incredible ability to manage time in the professional space, too, which is really awesome.”

Payne said focusing on homework while on the road is a team priority.

“We flew to New Orleans recently, and everyone was doing homework in the airport the entire time,” she said. “That’s the one thing about travel that’s actually nice — it gives you this block of time that you can use to get your homework done.”

Payne also stays busy in the spring semesters as a coach for the Corpus Christi Storm Performance Volleyball club. In addition to helping young local athletes improve their playing skills, Payne said she plays a mentorship role in helping Storm players navigate the college application process.

Payne hopes to play volleyball professionally after graduation. Her post-volleyball career pursuits include either a career in medical sales research or veterinary school.  

“They’re different paths, but they both seem very interesting to me,” Payne said.

The 2023 Southland Volleyball Championship, which consists of seven matchups, takes place Nov. 16-19 in Dugan Wellness Center on the Island University campus. The Islanders Women’s Volleyball Team will play Saturday, Nov. 18, at 5 p.m.; the championship match is slated for 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19. It will be livestreamed on ESPN +; for ticket information and matchup times, visit https://goislanders.com/sports/womens-volleyball