Zoe Bell has proven she can build championship volleyball programs, no matter where she goes, as the former Ardrey Kell and Providence coach has won 13 conference championships and five state titles in her 22-year tenure.
This year, Bell takes on a different kind of challenge as she becomes coach at Charlotte Latin, where the Hawks have won the past nine NCISAA 3A championships, going 265-11 under coach Suzie Pignetti.
“When I started at Providence and Ardrey Kell, I had to help build those programs and work our way up,” said Bell, whose Ardrey Kell team won the 4A state championship last season, going 31-1. “At Latin, it’s a situation where we will try to stay on top. There’s no entitlement. Just because we (Latin) have won the last state titles, that doesn’t mean anything for this year’s team. It’s a brand new year and we are working to get back to that championship level.”
Bell and Co. got started on their quest for a “10-peat” this summer as they put the team through Bell’s usual rigorous workouts that regularly produce championship teams.
Latin will look to reload quickly a team (38-1 last year) that was dominant but lost all-time leader in kills Eve Davis (N.C. State) and assist leader Emma Price (Belmont University) to graduation.
That process starts with all-state outside hitter Kellie Williams (Tennessee Tech commit), who had 344 kills and 380 digs last year and steps into the lead offensive role.
“Kellie is going to be a force to be reckoned with,” Bell said. “She is going to have to step up and be our leader.”
Bell said Latin will depend on all 14 girls on the roster, as they have a mix of seven underclassman (six sophomores, one freshman) and seven upperclassmen (three seniors, four juniors).
Sophomores Chanin Scott (jumps over 10 feet) and Dalila Mendygaziyeva will be key after playing supporting roles on last year’s team.
Meanwhile, junior libero Carrie Mittl will have to take on the setter spot until classmate Lily Beck returns from a dislocated knee cap suffered in the second day of practice (out four to six weeks).
Bell expects sophomore Rachel Mackey to also be big on the outside, and freshman middle blocker Carly Shimota is expected to make an impact early.
Elizabeth Aucamp, Kaelin Bush, Nicole Cockerham, Coleman Evans, Francis Medearis, Kelly Thomsen and Taylor Woollen are also battling to find their roles on a team looking for an unprecedented 10th straight state title run.
“We’ve got a lot of talented girls, but they are going to have to come together, learning from some mistakes and maybe some losses,” Bell said. “But in the end, my expectations are to be competing for a state championship.”
Bell knows all about focusing on the journey, game by game, and said she is looking forward to her latest challenge.
“I’ve been very lucky to go from a great school to a great school to a great school,” Bell said. “This will be a different challenge for me. But I love challenges.”
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