Country Day’s volleyball team has won more games in each of coach Brian Rosen’s five years at the helm for the Bucs, while also progressing further in the playoffs than they did in each previous season.
And this year was no exception to the trend.
The Bucs (34-6) ran through the conference season, earning their first Charlotte Independent Schools Athletic Association volleyball championship since 1997.
But it was the memory of how last season ended – walking off Charlotte Latin’s court demoralized after letting a 2-0 lead slip away in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association’s championship game – that fueled this year’s drive for their ultimate goal of a state title.
So, when the Bucs got up 2-0 over Covenant Day in this year’s state championship, they knew the results would be different.
“We said we’ve been here before and we’ve gone up 2-0 before,” said junior outside hitter Taylor Portland. “We definitely said we were going to have a different outcome this year and it wasn’t going to be the same. We’ve been playing well and hitting well and passing amazing and we knew it wasn’t over and they were going to fight.”
And that’s what they did. Despite giving up the third game, the Bucs closed out Covenant Day and wrapped up their coveted state championship.
“It feels amazing. It’s hardly sunk in and it’s such a surreal feeling,” Portland said. “We were so excited going into that game because we knew how good Covenant Day was and we knew how hard we had to fight to win that game.
“We also knew how bad we felt after we lost to Latin last year and we didn’t want to have that feeling again. We went out with so much heart and we never let our heads drop no matter what the score and I’m so proud of my team.”
Rosen said the Bucs’ crowning achievement is the realization of a goal, but may be the start of a special run by the Bucs, who return nearly all of their main contributors next season.
“I think we’re so balanced as a team and that makes us different,” Rosen said. “Most teams have one really good hitter. The better teams have two go-to hitters, but what separates us is that we have three really good hitters that are always right next to each other in kills every set.”
Rosen praised the play of attackers Portland, Katharine Franz, Hannah Kintzinger and Rachel Janson, all juniors, who had standout seasons. Plus, last year’s kills leader – junior Aysa Patterson – returned from an injury to record seven kills in the final, her highest output of the season.
So while the Bucs will enjoy this title, they’re hoping they can get back next season.
“I’d like to think so,” Rosen said. “I told (some of the Covenant Day players) ‘That was fun, let’s do it again next year,’ because we both bring back almost everybody.”
“Country Day volleyball is going to go on a steak, I just know it,” she said. “We’ve been working so hard and have been getting closer to that state title. Now that we have it and we know how good it feels, we’re going to fight just as hard next year.”