South Charlotte

Latin and Providence are tops at the net

The South Charlotte News area has produced some of the top volleyball teams in the state - from Charlotte Latin, which has won the last seven straight NCISAA 3A titles; to Providence, which has won five state titles since 1996 and been the runner-up twice, including this season.

Ardrey Kell, Charlotte Catholic, Charlotte Country Day and Myers Park also have had top volleyball programs in the state in recent years, with the Knights and Bucs state runners-up in 2009 and the Cougars and Mustangs in the state semifinals as recently as the 2009 and 2008 seasons, respectively.

With a handful of the state's top programs in the same area of Charlotte, who stands out as the best on the court?

Here is what we think:

Coach of the year: Suzie Pignetti, Charlotte Latin. Pignetti has now led her Hawks teams to seven straight NCISAA 3A state championships, including a 187-8 record in that span.

This year, the Hawks went 31-3 on their way to another state title.

"It's incredible the success we have been able to have here at Latin," said Pignetti, who has won 13 state titles as a coach at Latin and Country Day. "Once we started winning titles, every (Latin) team wanted to win it all, and none of the teams wanted to be the one who ended the streak."

Player of the year: Kelsey Newman, Charlotte Catholic. Newman loves to play volleyball; the Charlotte Catholic senior has been doing it since the second grade. This year Newman finished off a remarkable prep career in style, registering 449 kills, 406 digs, 96 aces and 76 blocks to earn her second straight ME-GA 7 Player of the Year award as she led Catholic to a 30-5 record, advancing to the 3A state quarterfinals. Next year, Newman will continue her academic and volleyball career at George Washington University.