Sarah Billiard has been a part of 81 victories in the past three years on the Covenant Day volleyball team.
But each season of the last three seasons the Lions’ season has ended with a loss in the NCISAA 3A state championship match.
Covenant Day lost to rival Charlotte Country Day in 2013 and 2014, before dropping a 3-2 heart breaker to North Raleigh Christian last fall on their home court.
This year, Billiard, a two-time all-state performer, hopes to finish her high school volleyball career with a victory.
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"It’s been a bittersweet moment each year in the state championship match, because yes it was disappointing to lose," said Billiard, who had 522 kills, 69 aces and 424 digs last season. "But, I also know that not that many people get to play for a state championship and we’ve done it three times in a row. But that feeling alone motivates us for the next year. It would be incredible to finish my final season with a win (championship)."
No matter her Covenant Day careers end, she will continue her volleyball career at University of Virginia.
Name: Sarah Billiard
School/Class: Covenant Day senior
2015 Volleyball Stats: 522 kills, 69 aces, 424 digs.
Why Her?: University of Virginia commit, two-time all-state outside is a versatile player using her size (6-foot) and athletic ability to dominate in nearly every phase of the game for a Lions’ team that has finished as NCISAA 3A state runners-up the last three straight seasons.
Charlotte Observer Volleyball Players to Watch
Taylor Rowland, Cox Mill, Jr.: 6-foot-2, Auburn commit was a dominating force on the outside for the Chargers with 539 kills, and with junior setter Courtney Weber (South Carolina commit who had 1,061 assists last year) forms one of the state’s best duos.
Emily Konchan, Providence, Sr.: George Mason commit and all-SoMeck8 setter will be the leader of a talented Providence team that is brimming with confidence under new head coach Brian Rosen.
Raleigh Clark, Charlotte Country Day, Sr.: University of North Carolina commit has size (6-foot-3) and talent (253 kills, 40 blocks last year) to help Bucs get back in contention in the CISAA conference and NCISAA 3A state championship races.
Hattie Rodriguez, Charlotte Catholic, Jr.: All-SoMeck 8 conference outside hitter now steps into a lead role (195 kills, 226 digs) with sophomore middle hitter Emma Ellis, for a Charlotte Catholic team that went 22-3, won the league (SoMeck8) title and got to the state quarterfinals. But the Cougars must reload after being hard hit by graduation.
Sehrena Hull, Davidson Day, Sr.: Virginia Tech commit and Mooresville High transfer should give the NCISAA 2A state runner-up Patriots the push and outside hitter they need to win it all this year.
Charlotte Observer Volleyball Teams to Watch
Cox Mill: The Chargers’ have been knocking on the door the last two seasons, going 54-4 in that span, and with players like Rowland, Weber and junior, Lauren Phillips, leading the way, this could be their time to make run at a 3A state title.
Providence: Former Charlotte Country Day coach Brian Rosen takes over a Panther program that is loaded with talent – led by seniors Emily Konchan and Macy Henry and transfer Ashley Cruise (Atlanta) – who are eager to prove they can be 4A state contenders again.
Hough: Coach Sandi Skidmore seems to have the Huskies in the mix each season as they got to the 4A state quarterfinals last year, and with seniors Elise Williams and Grace Detwiler back, look for Hough should be a big factor in the MECKA 4A and deep into the postseason again.
Ardrey Kell: Coach Zoe Bell also always seems to find a way to get the most out of her teams, and with senior setter Maddie Sweeney and sisters Ella and Sylvia Duggan (both Liberty University commits) back in the lineup, they will be factor in the SoMeck8 conference and into the postseason.
Marvin Ridge: The Mavericks won 21 games last year, including the Southern Carolinas’ conference (SCC) (10-0), on a team that largely depended on underclassmen. Now, juniors Noelle Soldo (SCC player of the year), Caitlyn Kiker, and Carly Owens lead a team that has even greater expectations.