Last year, Community School of Davidson’s volleyball team had its best season ever, advancing to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
Even with half of last year’s starting lineup graduating, Spartans coach Molly Gwaltney believes this year’s team could be a better team.
And with that belief comes a bigger goal.
“It’s a different team,” said Gwaltney, who took over as head coach for Mike Perkins after two years as an assistant. “Each year that I’ve been here, we’ve grown as a program and gone further each year.
“Last year, we fought a tough match to end our season, and left without a tear in my eye. The year before, I wasn’t the same, because I didn’t think we had given all that we could.”
Community School of Davidson lost three players off last year’s 22-2 team, which went undefeated in winning the Southern Piedmont 1A title and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCHSAA 1A state tournament before losing 3-1 to eventual state runner-up East Surry.
The graduation of seniors Christina Brumm, Madison Cosby and Megan Perkins cost the Spartans players who produced nearly half of the team’s kills (409 of 838) and aces (102 of 241), and a third of their service points (425 of 1,125).
However, Community School of Davidson returned 10 players, including its leading server and setter (senior Kylee Gomilla), its top defensive player (junior Gabbi Montgomery), and one of its top hitters (sophomore Sara Labadorf).
“Since we have a lot of people back this year, we’ve got a lot more drive to get past the quarterfinals at states this year,” Montgomery said.
Gomilla, one of four seniors on this year’s roster, led the Spartans last year in assists (614), digs (205), aces (46) and service points (218). Montgomery was their top blocker (57), while Labadorf was second in kills (174).
“Last year, we had one or two ‘go to’ hitters,” Gwaltney said. “Our defense was solid, but it was one or two players who had most of our kills. This year, we’ve got 12 very good kids. Without one, the team is able to continue and not hit a speed bump, whereas before if one went out, we really had to work.
“It’s worked out very well for us. We’re much more versatile now. It’s able to keep us creative on the front line, and keep our opponents off balance.”
Community School of Davidson is already off to a good start – 8-2 overall, 6-1 in the Southern Piedmont 1A through Sept. 15 – and ranked fifth in the state among 1A teams by national high school athletics website MaxPreps.com.
Good, but not good enough for the Spartans’ players.
“It’s such a new school that we want to get the program running right from the beginning,” Gomilla said. “To have a state title would prove that we’re here to stay, and that this program is going to be successful for a long time. A state championship is a good way to start that, and to prove ourselves.”
Bill Kiser is a freelance writer: email@example.com.