Outside hitter grows, becomes key for Chargers

Cox Mill junior Amanda Carter's favorite moment from last season might seem a little callous, at least to her sister.

The elder Carter, Christian, was a senior at Northwest Cabarrus, the Chargers biggest rival. For Amanda and her teammates it was a matter of pride to beat her sister's team.

"We really wanted to get that first win against Northwest last year," said senior captain Melissa Glenn, but that wasn't the case, as the Trojans went on to win 3-1. "There was a sentence in the newspaper that said, 'Northwest beat Cox Mill as expected.' That stirred us up so much. We didn't want to be taken lightly."

As the new kids on the block last year, many of their opponents took the Chargers for granted. The Cox Mill players, however, took offense to being slighted.

"People thought we'd be an easy win," said senior co-captain Brianna Fassett. "We wanted to come back and throw that in their faces."

Though they lost four of their first five games, the Chargers finished their inaugural season 7-13. However, no other win was as sweet as the 3-0 shutout of Northwest Cabarrus on the Trojans' senior night. There's a twinkle in the Chargers' outside hitter's eye, when she talks about that night.

"My parents were happy for me, but they didn't say anything at home because my sister was mad," said a smiling Carter, explaining that the win proved her Chargers were no pushovers.

Opponents started to take notice.

"We got comments from the parents and fans of other teams telling us that we outsmarted or outplayed the other team. We were just more than they expected."

And to look at their roster, you'd expect the Chargers to be a veteran squad, having seven returning upper class starters and just two sophomores and one freshman. But this year is only their second year together, and the team still has some growing to do. Still, this year's opponents aren't taking the Chargers lightly.

Cox Mill has shown improvement, earning an overall record of 9-9 (as of Oct. 8). In the South Piedmont Conference, the team is 5-6 and in tight hold of fourth place behind Mount Pleasant, Hickory Ridge and Jay M. Robinson.

The Chargers' triad of captains, Glenn, Fassett and Ameenah Bey Shaw, helped to build team chemistry and bonding through early season get-togethers that were needed to become a cohesive unit.

On the court, the Chargers have worked hard to make their presence known.

Glenn, a middle-hitter, leads the Chargers in blocks this season, while Shaw, a senior, and Carter lead in kills. Setters Emily Stevens and Meredith Furr share the load with assists, but Stevens leads the pack with aces while sophomore Lexi Dixon tops the stats with digs.

There's no true dominant player by the numbers, but head coach Julie South quickly tells you that Carter has become the team's difference-maker.

"Overall Amanda plays the best," said the first-year Chargers head coach. "She's always the one consistently going after balls, and she's always a leader."

Her teammates agree Carter has a way of correcting her peers, without seeming bossy, or like she's putting someone down.

"She never criticizes anyone, she just tries to help out there," said Fassett.

South explained Carter is respected by her teammates and her staff.

"We as coaches know when in doubt, she's the person we can turn to," said South.

The stability and dependability Carter offers the Chargers go hand-in-hand with the positive energy she exudes.

"I just want to keep everyone happy," she said. "Once you get down, it's so hard to get back up. I just always try to be helpful."

The Chargers have shown there is more to them than meets the eye, and Carter hopes to help her team achieve another one of those defining games this year.

"We've improved so much. ... It shows," said Carter. "I feel we are one of the top teams in the county."