Saturday, October 31, 2009

Charlotte Latin wins 6th NCISAA volleyball title

There’s nothing left for Charlotte Latin to prove at the NCISAA 3A volleyball tournament.

The second-seed Hawks finished the draw the same as the previous five seasons – as state champions after a 3-2 win against upstart Cary Academy on Latin’s home floor. Latin (27-1) and Cary Academy (33-1) pushed the other to the limit before the Hawks prevailed 25-18, 14-25, 25-20, 21-25, 15-11.

“It’s the same excitement every year, but nothing gets old,” said Latin middle hitter McCallie Jones, a senior who led the Hawks with 25 kills and 22 digs. “We never get cocky. We start over every year, it’s so much fun.”

Latin started strong against Cary Academy, which was making its first appearance in the championship game. The Hawks, behind Jones and freshman Eve Davis (15 kills, 26 digs) jumped out quickly in a rematch of the season opener won by the Chargers.

“We had something to prove, and we did,” Latin coach Suzie Pignetti said. “We hopped on early, we played with a lot of emotion and a lot of heart. We passed well and our offense seemed to click. Our serving was tough, which took them out of their offense.”

But Cary Academy, led by its all-state picks, outside hitter Ashleigh Crutcher and setter Cate Glendenning, stormed back. The Chargers picked up their passing attack in the second and fourth games, taking advantage of Crutcher’s power at the net to pull even.

“We played well,” Cary Academy coach Melanie Bryant said. “We just kind of fell apart at crucial points and we just had a hard time picking ourselves back up. Charlotte Latin is a strong team and Suzie always seems to make it work, no matter what she’s handed.”

The fifth game was all Latin, which jumped in front 9-2 and cruised home with the title, exacting a measure of revenge for the Hawks.

“All we wanted was a rematch and we got it,” said Jones, one of three Hawks named to the all-state team along with outside hitter Blair Carson and setter Delaney Dalton. “(Crutcher) is their only good hitter, and we have four or five good hitters, so they can’t choose whom to shut down on our team. If they shut down one player, we still have four who can hit it just as well as anyone else”