Prep Volleyball: Carson 3, Enka 0: Cougars make 3A state final
CANDLER - Rowan County schools have won team championships in baseball, football, boys and girls basketball, softball, boys and girls indoor and outdoor track, boys soccer, boys and girls tennis, boys cross country and boys and girls golf. Volleyball is one of the final frontiers for Rowan sports, and Carson (35-3) will have a chance to change that on Saturday. The Cougars will be playing for not only the county's first volleyball title but for the first state championship in their 7-year-old school's history. Carson swept Enka (25-2) after a 150-mile trip in Wednesday's Western Final. "The trip wasn't that big a problem," Carson coach Kelan Rogers said. "We left at 2, and we got there around 4:45. The girls were already settling in by 5 and were ready to play." Carson's only seniors are Allison Blackwell and Aimee Cloninger. Carson fell behind early in each of the first two sets but came back. The Cougars trailed late in the third set but won that one as well. "These girls do like to make it exciting," Rogers said. "It would be nice to beat someone 25-15, but they seem to prefer 25-23." Rogers said it was another team effort. "We played well, not our best, but pretty well," Rogers said. "We passed well, set the ball well and crushed it. We got something from all 16 girls. The contributions from the bench were great, as they have been all year." Runner-up to North Iredell in the NPC, Carson's five playoff victories have included four on the road against No. 1 seeds - Hickory Ridge, Charlotte Catholic, Marvin Ridge and Enka. "But it's like I've told our kids all along," Rogers said. "We play in the toughest conference in the state. We play North Iredell and West Iredell, and you're not going to run into many teams as good as they are. "I think we've been the better team in every one of our playoff games." Carson prepared diligently for this playoff run with lots of Saturday doubleheaders against the best opponents Rogers could line up. "The girls put in the time to get ready for this, and it's paid off so far," Rogers said. Rogers went to three Western finals as West Davidson's coach before coming to Carson. Carson won 75 games in his first three seasons, but it had never made it past the second round until this year. Carson will oppose three-time defending champ Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (20-2) on Saturday afternoon at Raleigh's Reynolds Coliseum. Rogers anticipates that the match, the second of Championship Saturday at Reynolds, will start around 2 or 2:30.