Taylor Portland remembers last year’s state championship match.With her Charlotte Country Day volleyball team up two games to nothing (25-19 wins in both games) over archrival Charlotte Latin, which had won the NCISAA 3A state title eight times, the Bucs could almost taste a victory and state title. But the Hawks came back, winning the third game 25-20, then 25-15, and then 15-8 in the fifth and decisive game to claim another state championship. While Portland and her teammates were proud of their season, and a school-record 32 victories (32-4 overall), the final result was bittersweet.“To get that far and come that close and come up just short was really tough,” said Portland, the junior caption of the 2013 Bucs’ team. “But I think that loss has made us want to get back (to state finals) and win it all even that much more. It’s been a constant motivation to work harder and not take anything for granted.”Coach Brian Rosen and his team are off to 10-0 start with their most meaningful wins coming in the Providence Day Charger tournament over Covenant Day in the semifinals (2-1) and then Latin in final (2-0), beating the Hawks 25-16, 25-20.The victory over Latin was not only big because of last year, but also because it was their first over the Hawks in 15-plus years, according to Rosen.“Beating Latin was a big win for our team and our volleyball program,” said Rosen, now in his 5th year as head coach. “We all know how long it has been. To beat them in a big tournament final like we did is huge. I think this team has a lot of confidence right now and we are playing like it.”Charlotte Country is doing without junior Asya Patterson being fully healthy, as last year’s kill leader (353 kills) tore her anterior cruciate ligament last January and had have minor surgery on her meniscus (Aug. 27). Patterson did play in the squad’s first eight games, playing the libero spot, instead of her usual outside hitter position. Rosen says they hope to get Patterson back in a couple weeks.The Bucs have a lot of talent, especially in the junior class, where outside hitters, Portland and Hannah Kintzinger join Patterson and middle blocker Katharine Franz, who has committed to Davidson College, to form a formidable quartet. All four also play for their Carolina Junior volleyball club team year round.Add a Notre Dame Academy transfer from Kentucky, junior setter Rachel Janson, and the Bucs’ lineup is in top form. The team lost all-state performer Mattie Newson and setter Megan Lewis to graduation, but Rosen says Janson is “a perfect fit.”Rosen says the entire team, which consists of only nine girls, will contribute with seniors Kimberly Duncan and Nicole Wilson as well as juniors Clare Aus and Beth Richardson also figuring in the mix.Country Day volleyball is a tight-knit group that likes to be together.“They are absolute family and the best of friends,” said Rosen, who took the girls to team camp at University of North Carolina this summer. “They just had a sleepover during the Providence Day tournament after being together all weekend. I think our team bond is a big reason why we are so successful.”Rosen and Co. hope that bond translates in another big season. The Bucs host Latin on Sept. 19 and visit Oct. 8. Portland also points out that Covenant Day (host Sept. 9) looked strong when they beat them 2-1 in the Providence Day tournament.“We’ve been through a lot together, and we know how hard it is just to get to the state championship,” Portland said. “We know there are a lot of teams out there that want to beat us and we aren’t taking even one match for granted. We have to finish everybody off.”Rosen believes his team has what it takes to make another championship run.“Obviously, Latin has won nine in a row, so until someone beats them in that game, nothing else matters,” Rosen said. “But we think if we can get back to that (state final) game we will be a lot better off, because we’ve been there before now. We know what it’s like to lose that game and we don’t want to feel that, again.” *This story went to print before Country Day played in the Porter Gaud (S.C.) tournament Aug. 30-31 and against Woodlawn School Sept. 3.
Tuesday, Sep. 03, 2013
Charlotte Country Day volleyball wants another shot at title
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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