Charlotte Country Day volleyball player Taylor Portland recorded her 1,000th career kill during an Oct. 4 home match against Hickory Grove.She didn’t know she had reached the mark until an assistant coach told her after the match.“It was really exciting,” Portland said. “It was kind of a moment like, this is everything I’ve been working for.” Portland is just the second Country Day player to reach the milestone, and, as a junior, she reached it faster than anyone in school history. She wasn’t aware of that, either, until a reporter recently told her.Portland also is on pace to set a school record for career kills, possibly this season. She doesn’t know what the record is, though it’s posted on a plaque in the Charlotte Country Day gym. (It’s 1,113, by Jeanay Butler in 2010.)She still may be aware of it, but Portland is on her way to becoming one of the best outside hitters to play at Charlotte Country Day.“I think the biggest thing for her is that she doesn’t have a weakness,” said head coach Brian Rosen. “I think she’s good at everything.”Portland, 16, played varsity as a freshman at Charlotte Country Day, starting at outside hitter and being “thrown into the fire,” according to Rosen. She handled her role on the varsity well, finishing with a team-high 301 kills.“When she came in as a freshman, I knew she had the work ethic and the intangibles to be really good,” Rosen said. “I didn’t think she’d be as good as she was her freshman year. I think that’s what surprised me the most.”As a sophomore, Portland finished second on the team in kills with 342, nine behind classmate Asya Patterson.Through the Oct. 15 match against Providence Day, Portland (5-foot-10) is second on the team with 395 kills this season, putting her career total at 1,038. Rosen said Portland’s consistency helped her reach the 1,000 mark so quickly.“You know exactly what you’re going to get from her every night out and I think that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “I think she has confidence coming into every single match that she’s going to do her job and everyone around her is going to feed off that.” Portland gave credit to her teammates.“My setters, that’s 1,000 of their assists to me, and that’s my team passing and digging balls so that the ball can come out to me,” she said.Portland is one of two captains on this year’s team, with classmate Katharine Franz, who leads the team with 405 kills. Rosen said the choice was obvious, calling Portland “our vocal leader, our emotional leader, our positivity leader.”She helps lead a team having its best season in more than 15 years. The Buccaneers (30-6, 7-0 through Oct. 15) clinched the CISAA conference title outright for the first time since 1997. If the team beat Charlotte Christian on Oct. 17, Charlotte Country Day volleyball will have gone undefeated in conference play for the first time since 1992. That’s also the last season the program won a state title.Country Day has beaten nine-time defending state champion Charlotte Latin three times this year: at Latin, at home and on a neutral court. The Bucs lost 3-2 in the state championship last year at Latin after winning the first two sets.“It’s been so exciting,” Portland said of this season. “I can’t wait for it to all pay off for our team and to get to that state championship and play our best game. Beating Latin, it felt so good after what we went through in the state championship and losing to them.”Portland sees her personal accomplishments as part of the success the program has had over the past few years and expects many future Country Day players to challenge her career numbers.“It’s exciting that the program is heading in that direction, where there’s so many girls on my team that have the potential to reach that milestone as well,” she said. “Our program is growing in that direction and such good things are coming.”
Friday, Oct. 18, 2013
Charlotte Country Day’s Taylor Portland records 1,000 kills
Inscoe: 704-358-5923; Twitter: @CoreyInscoe
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