At the beginning of the year, Scott Maddox likened his new position of Salisbury girls tennis coach to being given the keys to a sports car. He didn’t have to break the sound barrier, just get them safely to their destination, that being a sixth-straight state 2A championship.
The Hornets went over a few bumps in losses to Charlotte Catholic and Ardrey Kell but Saturday morning there’s a good chance Maddox will turn it in with a full tank of gas and nary a scratch. Maddox, most known for his baseball work with youth programs and at SHS, is excited for the final match of his first season. The Hornets will meet at SHS at 6:45 a.m. before leaving for Burlington Tennis Park.
“We’re getting to the parking spot,” Maddox said. “Now we just got to park it without getting any scratches on it.”
The Hornets’ early start kicks off one of the busiest Saturdays of the year for prep sports. It’s the second-straight year Salisbury tennis and Carson volleyball have played for state crowns on the same day.
Salisbury faces the N.C. School of Science and Math, a school new to the 2A level and one the Hornets haven’t faced. SHS has faced Greene Central, Carrboro, Tarboro and Cedar Ridge in championship matches since 2008.
NCSSM had its No. 1 singles player, Lydia Yaun, reach the quaterfinals of the singles championships. The 17-0 Unicorns also had a state qualifier in Jessie Huang, who lost to Salisbury’s Grace Steinman in singles play. The Hornets had six players qualify for state and had seniors Alexandra Drye and Madeline Hoskins have already brought home hardware in winning the state doubles title last weekend.
“It’s only human nature to be nervous,” Maddox said. “But I’ve got a lot of confidence in these girls. They’re playing their best tennis right now.”
While Salisbury tennis doing big things is nothing new, Carson volleyball coach Kelan Rogers and the Cougars are charting new waters. Last year, Carson was the first team from Rowan County to play for a state title
The match is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. and begin one of the busier days in county prep sports history. In Raleigh, Carson plays Cardinal Gibbons for the second-straight season in the 3A championship. Gibbons is 27-0 and going for a record fifth-consecutive championship.
Ever since the loss to CG last year, Rogers made the focus getting back to Reynolds Coliseum at N.C. State, where he graduated in 1990.
Rogers swears the Cougars are better than last year and he may be right. Carson’s taking a 34-0 record into the championship and made quick work of St. Stephens in the west region final. Lead by seniors in Michaela White, Madison Weast and Hannah Elmore, the Cougars hope to build a base that supports volleyball in the county and create opportunities for younger girls to play.
“These girls have improved without having a middle school program,” Rogers said. “Some places have elementary school programs and have seniors that have eight, nine years experience. Our seniors have three.”
Despite any lack of experience, Carson has rarely been challenged this year, the closest anyone came to upending the run was last Saturday’s five-game thriller with Marvin Ridge.
“Our goal was to get back,” Carson’s Madison Weast said. “This is what we’ve worked for all season. We can’t stop now.”
Salisbury and Carson’s soccer teams are playing second-round playoff action with SHS taking on Lexington and Carson playing Asheville. Both matches are at home.
In Cross country Carson’s Zachary Marchinko and West Rowan’s Rebecca Parker are bets to finish high in the state 3A meet in Kernersville as is Salisbury’s Susannah Dixon. The East boys team has had strong finishes in recent years as well.
By the end of the day, many area athletes will be glad to fall back and get a extra hour of sleep on Sunday.