Charlotte Catholics first 4A conference volleyball championship went like the 17 before it.
The Cougars won the inaugural SoMeck 8 4A title Wednesday with a 3-0 victory against Ardrey Kell on the Knights home floor, giving Catholic its 18th straight league championship starting in the 2A ranks.
It was extremely exciting the whole way through, said senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Massey, who earned the tournament most valuable player award with 12 kills and 16 digs in the final. Weve definitely gone through a lot of injuries, a lot of us found ourselves working so hard, so we had to push through a lot today.
In the MECKA 8 4A volleyball final, Hough beat Hopewell 3-1.
Across town, at Butler High, Myers Park won the Southwestern 4A tournament, beating Porter Ridge 3-1.
Top seed Catholic (22-2) was up to Ardrey Kells best effort, recovering from early deficits in the second and third sets to pull away to 25-18 wins in each. The Cougars, who won the first set 25-14, leaned on their power and passing to gain the upper hand and keep the second-seeded Knights (17-9) at bay.
Thats been our go-to thing all season, first-year coach Tracy Landschoot said. We pass well, run our offense and just grind it out on defense.
Ardrey Kell picked up the attack in the second set for a 5-1 lead but couldnt push the advantage once Catholic settled in. With Massey and middle blocker Emma Mitchell (14 kills, four blocks) controlling the net and setter Mollie Ray (28 assists) directing the offense, the Cougars reeled off a 17-7 run to turn the tide.
We just had to refocus, Massey said. Sometimes we get a little too crazy or we get too comfortable and thats when we need to remember to communicate as much as we did in the first set. That was definitely the difference in the second and third.
Catholics defense was efficient as well, with Danielle Sheppard and Megan Webb combining for 25 digs. Outside hitter Elizabeth Kaeser led the Knights with 11 kills and five digs and Hayley Western added seven kills, but Catholics balance was overpowering.
What went off first was the passing, Ardrey Kell coach Nic Allen said. The first game, we werent ready to play. Our passing was good throughout the match, but in terms of intensity, following the ball, playing to the end was not there.
But Catholic did, and the result was another championship added to the streak, which Landschoot had been constantly reminded of.
I guess weve been blessed that way just to have the athletes and the program, she said. Its kind of a tradition thats been passed down from one generation of seniors to the next. It means a lot to them as well.
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