by Aaron Garcia
On Oct. 29, the Charlotte Latin volleyball team extended south Charlotte’s most impressive dynasty by winning its eighth consecutive N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A title.
The Hawks downed Huntersville SouthLake Christian, 3-0 (25-16, 25-19 and 25-15).
Eve Davis tallied 23 kills and 16 digs for the Hawks, while Kellie Williams had eight kills and 13 digs. Emma Price distributed 34 assists and managed 12 digs, while Amma Okwara had seven kills and five digs. Ashley Finke, the team’s libero, had 26 kills. After the tournament, Davis, Price and Williams each were named to the all-state team.
The Hawks entered the tournament with a record of 37-2 after dropping a pair of matches to highly competitive teams from South Carolina. Despite the losses, the Hawks were the odds-on favorites to win the 2011 title. Even after seven consecutive championships, the team had to learn how to play with such lofty expectations, said coach Suzie Pignetti.
“When you have a couple of the best players in the state and the expectations are you’re going to win, there are different pressures that you feel,” said Pignetti. “Having a good team and having some good players equals a little more stress in some ways.”
Especially when your opponent in the final match is undefeated, as SouthLake was with a 27-0 record. The Eagles claimed last year’s NCISAA 2A crown but moved up to the 3A level this fall. Pignetti said that facing a schedule filled with teams such as Weddington, Charlotte Catholic, Waxhaw Marvin Ridge, Charlotte Country Day and Hillcrest (S.C.) certainly helped her Hawks team.
“We really challenged ourselves with our schedule this year,” Pignetti said. “We had a lot more court hours than (SouthLake) did, and we had a lot more experience against better teams. I felt that had to count for something, and I think it really did.”
Pignetti said the most impressive thing to her was the level of focus her players maintained throughout the tournament.
“We just had such mental toughness,” Pignetti said. “Our kids just stayed sharp through the whole match. It’s unbelievable how they did that.”
The Hawks championship roster also included Brooke Brown, Grace Bryant, Chandler Dalton, Caroline Finke, Shema’n Fullwood, Madison Pulliam, Linley Robinson, Meaghan Shimota and Emily Usher.
Charlotte Latin opened tournament play on Oct. 28 with a 3-0 win over High Point Christian (25-15, 25-12, 25-17). The Hawks then downed Cary Academy 3-0 in the semifinals (25-17, 25-16, 25-11) to advance to the finals.