CHCCS Brings Home Four More State Titles
The end of the fall athletic season brought four more North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) titles to CHCCS programs: Volleyball and Men’s Cross Country at Chapel Hill High School (CHHS) and Women’s Cross Country and individual women’s tennis title at Carrboro High School (CHS). Many other teams and individual athletes made it to late rounds in their tournaments, so it was another strong showing by CHCCS high schools.
The CHHS volleyball program won its third state title in history, but the first since legendary coach, Sherry Norris, retired. It was also the first title as a 3A team; the last Tiger championship was a 4A title in 2003. After finishing as state runners-up in 2016 and 2017, the volleyball players and their coach, Ross Fields, were thrilled to bring home the title this year, finishing the season 28-1.
The final game pitted CHHS against West Henderson, who won the first set, but the Tigers won the next three sets handily, never looking back. Most Valuable 3A Player, Kaya Merkler scored 20 kills in the game. The UNC-bound player also had 15 solo blocks. “Our team plays best under pressure,” Merkler said.
Sam Breschi garnered the spotlight as well, with 36 assists for the game. “For us seniors, we knew that losing was not an option,” Breschi said. “We went out to every game and played our hearts out. I knew that if we played how we train, and we played together, then we would come out on top. Proud to be a Tiger!”
Coach Fields said, “The win was truly an entire Program effort. Every member of the Program, from the incoming freshman to the graduating senior, helped to push the team to the championship this year. The community support was outstanding, especially from the parents who provided opportunities for our students to attend the matches at no cost, and our home court advantage showed with our fans pushing the team through DH Conley in the regional final. The team understands that there is a time to play and a time to win; what they do in “winning time” is what defines them. They proved they know how to execute in winning time after falling behind 0-2 to Conley in the state semi-final and 0-1 to West Henderson in the state final. The entire coaching staff is incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication all players put into this season and for the four amazing years the seniors gave by achieving one third place finish, two state runners-up, and a state championship in their time in the Program.”
Julia Charney contributed six kills in the final game, and she won the NCHSAA Sportsmanship Award for the Tigers. She said, “As a senior, it was a long journey. After losing in 2016, and having lost in 2017, despite having the lead in the Championship game, and then losing the semi-finals last year, it was our last chance to win a state championship. I think we all knew that we were capable of doing so; it was just a test to see if we could keep the focus and teamwork throughout the season and into the playoffs. Everyone was super-focused and determined to make it all the way. I think the journey made winning the title so much more valuable and special. It wasn't easy, but it was the best experience, and it's one that I will never forget. Since I have been here, I don't think the team chemistry has ever been better, and I am so proud to have been part of this amazing journey. Go Tigers!!!”
Two CHCCS high schools won cross country titles: CHHS men’s team and CHS women’s team. The Tiger runners edged past Weddington 61-77 for their eleventh state championship and their first since 2016. The Tigers were led by Ben Hawley who finished sixth overall in a time of 16:11.30. Their coach, Joan Nesbit Mabe, has been a celebrated distance runner in this area since she graduated from UNC as a three-time All-American.
The CHS women’s cross country team won a 2A title for the seventh time out of eleven years years. Coached by Mimi O’Grady, the Jaguars averaged a time of 19:39.82 to triumph over North Lincoln who finished with an average time of 19:45.14. Louise Lounes finished fifth overall with a time of 19:16.11. Runners Hannah Prisser, Cora Van Ray and Madeline Ramsden finished eighth, ninth and tenth.
After the women’s team won the title in 2018, April Ross, athletic director at CHS, said the success of the cross country program is due to “both incredible talent and incredible coaching. Just having talented runners isn’t enough. The excellent coaching pushes those runners to success.”
The fourth title went to CHS tennis player, Lauren Baddour, winner of the 2019 NCHSAA 2-A singles state championship, defeating McCollough Perry of Hendersonville High, 6-0, 6-4.
Baddour said, “This has been a goal of mine for four years now, so it was extremely rewarding to see years of training finally pay off. Especially since I won as a senior, it felt like the previous four years had been building to that moment. The State tournament also happened to be played at the tennis center where I train, so I felt like I had a home court advantage.”