Concord Spiders turn volleyball season around
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Monday, Oct. 28, 2013

Concord Spiders turn volleyball season around

Midway through the South Piedmont 3A season, Concord High volleyball coach Jenna Parnell was a little concerned about where her team ranked among the rest of the conference.

The Spiders had lost to a team Parnell believed they should have beaten. And they had a difficult time winning other matches that their coach believed shouldn’t have been so hard.

Then the Spiders found Destiny.

Senior right-side hitter Destiny Floyd, that is. Concord had plenty of quality players in its lineup, but when Floyd returned from an anterior cruciate ligament injury, the Spiders were a different team.

Concord (14-7 overall, 10-6 conference) were strong in the second half of the season, winning five of its final six regular-season matches before bowing out to North Iredell in the first round of the 3A state playoffs Oct. 19.

The Spiders finished tied for third in the SPC behind powerhouses Carson and Hickory Ridge, a feat that had seemed unlikely a few weeks into the season.

“I think the season went great,” senior captain Janae Waters said. “We were all pretty close throughout the season. We worked hard as a team and remained positive.”

Perennial SPC champion the Ragin’ Bulls and China Grove Carson, a conference newcomer that was the state 3A runner-up in 2012, figured to be the top two teams in the league this year.

Not including Floyd, five starters returned to a Concord lineup that finished third in the regular season a year ago. The Spiders finished second to Hickory Ridge in the conference tournament.

Among those returning was Alicia Stewart, a senior all-conference setter. Waters and fellow senior outside hitter Madison Shaw played on the front line with middle blockers Kathryn Craver, a sophomore, and junior Hannah Lewis. Senior libero Kelley Greenburg also returned.

Concord quickly fell behind in the conference standings with a 3-0 loss to Hickory Ridge. The Spiders then won their next three SPC matches before losing to Cox Mill and Carson.

The hard-fought, five-set loss to Cox Mill was hard to swallow. The Spiders lost the first set 26-24 and the final set 15-12.

A five-set victory over Northwest Cabarrus preceded the next league match with Hickory Ridge. Up until that match, Floyd had been recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury that she suffered playing basketball the previous school year.

Concord lost the first set against the Ragin’ Bulls, but when Floyd entered the match at the end of the second set, she made an immediate impact. Down 2-0 in sets, the Spiders recovered to win the next two.

Concord jumped ahead in the fifth set 14-12, one point away from victory. Hickory Ridge responded, however, and scored the next four points to win.

The loss was nevertheless a moral victory for Concord, a catalyst for a five-set win in its rematch with Cox Mill two weeks later. Beating the Chargers was meaningful because the Spiders had not won against them last year.

“Our team kind of feeds off Destiny’s energy,” Waters said. “Her getting hurt was a big loss to the team. When she came back, she was kind of the glue, and that helped with our confidence.”

Floyd, who was second in the team in digs despite missing 11 matches, wasn’t the only Spiders player to miss action due to injury. Shaw’s all-in approach to the sport came to a head, literally, in a home win over Northwest Cabarrus on Sept. 12.

Pursuing an errant hit, Shaw, the team’s vocal leader, slammed head-first into the bleachers and ended up missing more than two weeks with a concussion and a pinched nerve.

“She came back and nothing changed her,” Parnell said. “She still (went) after everything.”

Leading Concord offensively was Craver, with 236 kills and 56 service aces, and Stewart’s 588 assists. Greenberg had a team-high 370 digs, and Lewis was the blocks leader with 43.

Craver, Lewis, junior outside hitter Kailan Bost, sophomore setter/outside hitter Dakota Thompson, junior left-side Autumn Turner and junior back row player Tandria Jelks will be part of Concord’s quest for the conference title next season.

Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at joehabina@yahoo.com.

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