Lake Norman & Mooresville

New coach gets Knights off to strong start

Jeff Moran had never coached a high school varsity game before this season.

When the Lake Norman Charter volleyball coaching position came open last spring, he wasn't the first person on their list.

But he may have been the best fit for the job, as the Knights' volleyball coach led his team to a14-0 start.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't intimidated at first by the prospect of coaching this team," said Moran, who was an assistant volleyball coach for the Knights' middle team in 2007 and 2008. "I didn't have any experience as a head coach. But I have a tremendous group of girls, who not only have a lot of talent but also are 12 great teammates. That has made this a lot easier transition for me."

The team has been dominant to start the year, winning 39 of its first 43 games, including nine 3-0 wins.

Lake Norman Charter also started its inaugural Southern Piedmont Conference season with a 10-0 record.

"I couldn't have imagined the start we've had this year," Moran said. "To do this on top of getting into a new conference is also tough. We've had to go to a lot of gyms and schools we've never been to, and we've handled it well."

Heading into the Knights' Sept. 30 game against Cannon, the team had only dropped games to Charlotte Country Day, Covenant Classical, East Lincoln and Gray Stone Day.

The team's best win in its three-year varsity program history came last week, when they beat perennial private school power Charlotte Country Day 3-1.

After losing the first game 25-16, Lake Norman Charter roared back to win the next three games 25-22, 25-12 and 27-25 to win the match.

The result even surprised some of the Lake Norman Charter's best players.

"We played them last year and it wasn't pretty. We got killed," said Knight senior co-captain Katie Fabian. "That win gives us a lot of confidence that we can play with anyone even if we get down a game. I think we're a changed team after that win."

Her coach agreed.

"That was a statement win for us," Moran said. "I think the rest of the volleyball world is going to take notice of that win."

Fabian and sophomore Julie Newell have led the way as outside hitters, being the main two offensive weapons for the Knights, with sophomore Korinne Belfield also figuring in the mix. Senior setter Katie Sevin, a team co-captain, directs the offense.

Moran says the teams' main strength is that all 12 of its players are able to contribute, while also focusing on the only stat that matters to them - winning.

Life has been good for the Lake Norman Charter volleyball team to start the season, but it hasn't always been easy.

Fabian said she has had four coaches in her four years of playing at the school.

"Having four different coaches has definitely made it tough at times," she said. "We have to get used to different approaches and lineups and styles every year. I think Coach Moran has really been good for us on and off the court. He wants us to be great players, but he also really cares about us and has gotten to know us."

Moran, Fabian and the other Knights hope that team concept will translate into even better things the rest of the season.

For Lake Norman Charter that means a chance to compete for an SPC title in its first year in the league and to make a run in the 1A playoffs.