FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – No Arkansas volleyball player has been as impactful on the program as former Razorback Krystal Osborne.
The first African-American player recruited and one of two signed, Osborne was a member of the Razorbacks’ inaugural team playing from 1994-97.
“Krystal was an amazing athlete,” said former Arkansas volleyball coach Chris Poole. “You find very few players at her size that could jump and touch around 10’3". Although we always listed her taller, she was only about 5’8". Krystal also had such a competitive nature. It was evident in watching her play that she gave everything she had every rally.”
Osborne, a Las Vegas, Nev. Native, signed on with the Razorbacks for the 1994 season. She committed to a program that didn’t exist.
When she was recruited, there were no nets, no uniforms and no history on which to base her decision. She took a leap of faith becoming one of eight players on a first-year team in the Southeastern Conference.
Her leap of faith paid off in dividends for both Osborne and the Razorbacks as she became one of the most decorated players in program history and laid the foundation for the success that was to come.
“Krystal helped build a foundation as a first year program her freshman year,” said Poole. She helped Arkansas go on to 11 post-season tournaments in the first 13 seasons of existence. What a great success story for one of the true pioneers of Arkansas volleyball.”
No one can question Osborne’s athletic accomplishments when you look at the record books.
In four seasons, Osborne tallied a program-best 2,185 career kills ranking first at Arkansas, second all-time in the SEC and, upon graduation, she was in the top 20 in the nation for career kills.
Her kill total is 590 kills ahead of the second-place mark.
In addition, Osborne is one of five players to have more than 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs. Osborne ranks second for career digs with 1,659, trailing only All-SEC libero Ashley Miller (2,126) in that category.
With her name all over the Razorback record book, it’s not surprising that Osborne has earned numerous honors as well. She was the first Razorback volleyball player to earn All-SEC First-Team honors (1994) and was selected to the AVCA All-District team that same season.
She would go on to earn three All-SEC honors and added SEC Tournament MVP to her résumé in 1997 leading the Razorbacks to a three-set upset win over fourth-ranked Florida in the SEC Championship.
“Because of her jump and athleticism,” said Poole, “she could do things on the court that were incredible. There were many great matches for her, but two that stand outwere the Alabama match our first season (1994) when we were playing for the SECWest Division Championship at home. Krystal put the team on her back and was simply unstoppable. The other match that stands out was for the 2007 SEC TournamentChampionship win over the Florida Gators. Krystal was selected MVP of the tournament and again was incredible. She was in a zone that match and certainly a big reason for our success that season. She finished her career leadingArkansas to four post-season Tournaments, four SEC West Division Championships, three SEC Tournament finals and the SEC Tournament Championship her senior year.”
After completing her eligibility at Arkansas, Osborne tried her hand in the professional ranks of American volleyball playing for a couple of teams in the U.S.P.V. league.
As her playing days wound down, Osborne completed her training and fulfilled her life-long ambition to work as a mortician. Recently, Osborne has returned to her native Las Vegas, Nev., and continues to work in her chosen field.
“Krystal was respected by her teammates because of the positive attitude she brought to practice every day,” Poole said. “As with most young players, she needed to learn self discipline and to mature. As she got older, she became a great role model for the young players. I’m proud of how hard she worked and the positive legacy she left at Arkansas.”