by Aaron Garcia
This season, the Marvin Ridge High School volleyball team captured its first conference championship by finishing with an 18-3 record, including a 10-0 mark in Southern Carolina 3A/4A league play.
On Oct. 20, the Mavericks took things a step further, defeating Weddington, 3-0, for their first conference tournament crown.
Senior Jacqui Spurgeon had 17 kills and three blocks, and coach Brook Hammers said sophomore Elizabeth Stedman had several “thunderous” finishes.
Marvin Ridge hosts Concord, a fifth seed from the South Piedmont conference in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament. Hammers said winning the conference tournament was a must, even if the Mavericks haven’t lost a game in 13 consecutive outings.
“We needed that momentum,” she said. “We haven’t gotten out of the first round of the playoffs in the past three years, so building that momentum and carrying us through the first round of the playoffs is huge for us. That’s our next goal. We’ve never done that as a school yet. To me, it’s so instrumental.
“I was afraid that if we did take that loss, how would we respond on Saturday?” continued Hammers. “Not that I thought my girls were going to lose at all, because I have so much confidence in them. It’s just that we hadn’t seen a loss in a long time. Entering the playoffs, we don’t have a game to play with. We have to show up Saturday, or we’re done.”
Of course, it always helps to beat your rival in big matches. It was Marvin Ridge’s third win over Weddington this season.
“It’s very hard to beat a team three times in a row,” said Hammers. “but being able to do that has been icing on the cake for these girls. Last year they beat us three times in a row, but this year we were able to (win). We’re very excited about that.”
The Warriors’ 14-11 record this season snapped a three-year streak of notching at least 20 wins. But to their credit, they still earned a No. 2 seed in the state tournament. Not too shabby for a team with only one returning starter.
“We’ve lost more than we usually have, but we’ve lost to good teams,” said Weddington coach Carrie Powell. “The teams that, in the past, we’ve either beaten or been close to – Butler and Providence – are the games we lost. In conference, we did real well.
“Weddington girls are used to winning, so trying to adjust to that and use it as momentum has been a little difficult this year. But they have a good attitude about it. They know everyone will be back next year. We’re looking forward to it.”
With a team almost devoid of seniors, Powell credited junior setter Taylor Linton with providing much-needed leadership.
“This year, the players weren’t quite as mature as seniors, and that played a role. But Taylor did a good job of trying to lead the team,” said Powell.
Outside hitter Anna Reichenbach and libero Lauren Martin also emerged as vital members of the squad.
Though they took their lumps early, the Warriors rallied down the stretch to finish 8-2 in the conference, good for second place.
Powell even explained that earning a No. 2 seed, compared to their customary No. 1 seed, could help her young squad.
“Being a two seed isn’t bad; it just means you have to fight a little harder in the first round or two,” she said. “You have to come out swinging right away, which is good for us. If we had to ease our way into it, I’m not sure we’d keep our focus.”
The Warriors host Concord Robinson (16-7) on Saturday, Oct. 23.
Several other teams from the county will begin the postseason on Saturday as well. In Class 4A, Porter Ridge (8-16) will visit Huntersville Hopewell (26-3), while Sun Valley (4-16) travels to Mooresville (11-8). In Class 2A, Piedmont (25-1) looks to continue its strong season against West Lincoln (12-9), while Cuthbertson (13-5) opens against Central Davidson (11-9). Central Academy (7-12) is the lone county team to qualify for the 1A playoffs, and will travel to North Moore (11-8).
Metrolina hopes to power a bright future
Metrolina Christian Academy seeks support as the school enters the “Clorox: Power a Bright Future” contest. The winner of the contest, which will be determined solely on votes received by Nov. 1, will be awarded a $50,000 grant. Metrolina hopes to use its winnings to help build on-campus athletic facilities.
To vote, visit www.clorox.promo.eprize.com/brightfuture.