Carson’s White taking volleyball skills to UNC Charlotte
CHINA GROVE — Carson volleyball coach Kelan Rogers doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to Charlotte 49ers signee Michaela White.
“The most talented player I’ve ever coached,” said Rogers, who guided championship teams at West Davidson for many years before he came to Carson. “I say that because Michaela can do anything and everything that a person can do on a volleyball court.”
Having White on the volleyball floor is like having Mike Trout in center field. She can set, she can hit, she can serve and she’s great on defense.
“I’m just a very family-oriented person, and when I met the coaches and players at Charlotte, I could see it being home for me for the next four years,” White said. “It’ll be nice to be away at college but to still be close to my friends and family. They can come see me play.”
White was Carson’s setter for three years. Rogers thought outside the box this season, and with the emergence of Morgan Hester as a setter, it freed White to hit. She was Carson’s go-to hitter whenever the going got toughest in challenging playoff matches with South Iredell, Marvin Ridge and St. Stephens.
Just how terrific White was probably won’t be fully appreciated until 2014 when Rogers and the Cougars try to move on without her.
Carson had outstanding players on the floor with White — Allison Blackwell, Aimee Cloninger, Hannah Elmore and Madison Weast to name just a few — but it was White’s multiple skills that allowed the Cougars to make that leap from conference contenders to state contenders. Without her, Carson would’ve still been really good. With her, the Cougars made back-to-back trips to Raleigh on Championship Saturdays.
Carson won 65 games in White’s junior and senior years and finished as Western Regional champs and 3A state runner-up both seasons.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, White will be called down front when the all-county volleyball picture is taken. She’ll be player of the year for the fourth straight time. Even K.P. Parks and Scooter Sherrill were only three-time players of the year in their respective sports, so that’s a pretty serious accomplishment.
White’s gene pool is Olympic-sized. The stories about her spiking volleyballs in her crib probably are tall tales, but there was almost no way she wasn’t going to be a fine athlete.
Her mother, the former Casey Lanning, is in the North Carolina Slow-Pitch Softball Hall of Fame and the Pfeiffer Hall of Fame and was Rowan County Player of the Year for basketball in 1981.
White’s father, Tim, was a tremendous softball player, the MVP of the 1983 Amateur Softball Association of America national tournament. He batted .640 with 12 homers in the nationals.
White was among the nation’s leading home run wallopers in the 1980s. He belted 250 longballs for Western Steer in 1985, the same year that he and Miss Lanning got engaged.
Four athletic kids have come out of that marriage of an East Rowan mom and West Rowan dad,
The oldest, Jac White Mulkey, starred at first base on West’s back-to-back 3A softball state champs, was a Rowan County Player of the Year and broke several records during a fine career at Catawba.
Mackenzie White was next, and she competed in multiple sports at West and Carson. She scored 33 points in a Carson basketball game, a school record she held until Kelly Dulkoski finally broke it.
Mackenzie competed in both volleyball and softball at Catawba and had a softball game in which she went 4-for-4 with two homers and six RBIs to earn SAC Player of the Week honors.
Michaela is third in line. Little brother Owen is now in the eighth grade at West Rowan Middle School.
Michaela played varsity basketball her freshman year at Carson and also has competed in softball.
“Growing up, I’d always thought I’d be a college softball player,” she said. “But I hurt my shoulder and had to have surgery my sophomore year. Since then, volleyball became the most important sport for me. It does help to be pretty versatile and it does help to be 6 feet tall.”
Charlotte announced the signing of two players on National Signing Day, with Asheville A.C. Reynolds’ Natalie Montini joining White.
Division I volleyball is a big-time sport. Schools can have 12 athletes on full scholarship, and a free education for playing the sport she loves made Charlotte a fairly easy choice for White,
The 49ers are excited about getting her.
“She’s a big-time recruit for our program from just up the road,” Charlotte coach Chris Redding said. “She’s both a setter and a hitter and will be able to do whatever we ask her on the court. She has a high volleyball I.Q., she’s a tough competitor, and she’s clutch at crucial times in a match. She’ll be a vital player in helping our program compete at the top of Conference USA.”
White is an excellent student and plans to major in chemistry or biology with an eye on a future medical career. But for the next four years, her goal will be to elevate Charlotte volleyball the way she did her high school program.
“She’ll have an adjustment period to college, but she’ll do great in volleyball and in school,” Rogers said. “She’s not just a good volleyball player — she’s a really good person.”
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