RALEIGH — Leesville Road’s volleyball season came to a disappointing end Saturday, as the previously undefeated Pride lost 3-0 to Charlotte Ardrey Kell in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A finals.
Though their near-perfect season was over, coach Taine Mergenthaler looked beyond the past few months and thought back to four years ago when this group came together at Leesville Road.
“I’m really proud of these girls for the season that they had,” Mergenthaler said. “Four years ago when I first met them, the varsity team before that hadn’t won a complete game and now we were one game away from being completely undefeated.”
The seniors – Kati Stammen, Zipporah Foster, Sasha Karelov, Nia Doaks and Allison Stone – have really turned the program around, he said.
Karelov led the Pride (27-1) with 13 kills and 18 digs, Foster and Stone combined for 27 assists and Stammen added 18 digs.
Leesville Road found itself down early in all three sets. The Pride managed to claw its way back into contention, but fell short each time.
Leesville Road got down early in the first set, but fought back from down 9-3 to push Ardrey Kell (31-1) to the brink before falling in a 29-27 thriller to open the match.
It was the third time in as many matches the Pride lost its first set, but this time Leesville couldn’t overcome the deficit. Ardrey Kell won the final two sets, 25-22 and 25-17.
“At the beginning of each set we started low each time,” Stammen said. “We dropped like five points every time. I don’t think anyone thought of it as losing the first set had any effect. You’ve got come back from everything like that.”