When Carrboro High School opened in 2007, volleyball coach Steve Scanga needed something to positively reinforce the good plays that were sometimes few and far between. So he bought a pink and purple toy magic wand to help him point those out, just to give his team something they could hold onto in tough times.
In their 10th year, the Jaguars had a season full of magic-wand-worthy plays and now a state championship to boot.
Carrboro capped a perfect season by defeating previously undefeated Maiden 3-1 (25-20, 25-17, 18-25, 25-12) in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A championship at Reynolds Coliseum.
“Today was a fantastic day for us and a culmination of years of practice and struggle,” Scanga said.
Carrboro (30-0) had been building toward this moment for some time. The Jaguars were undone in the final four in each of the previous two years before breaking through this year against Currituck County in the East final before completing the unbeaten year against Maiden (30-1).
Carrboro’s three-year record is 84-5. Seniors Grace Maggiore, Diana and Christine Alcox, Zoe Hurwitz and Elizabeth Ollila will go out on top.
“Our slogan all year has been ‘Third time’s the charm.’ We wanted to make it here and get past that block in the road that’s been there the last two years,” Ollila said.
The Jaguars’ nerves were apparent in the first set, as they trailed Maiden until a 9-1 push turned a 19-16 deficit into a 25-20 victory. It wasn’t just nerves either. Maiden had a good enough block to thwart junior North Carolina recruit Destiny Cox on four occasions early.
But when Carrboro became more aggressive with its serve and mixed up its attack – with Maggiore, Ollila (11 kills) and Christine Alcox (8 kills) all contributing – the Jaguars were a brand new team. There was no way for Maiden to hone in on Cox anymore, and Carrboro showed why it’s undefeated with a 25-17 second-set win.
There were too many options, too many weapons. Maggiore (27 assists) and Sarah Montross (15 assists) split time as the primary setter, a luxury few teams have. Freshman Destinee Dorsey had 24 digs to lead the defense.
Cox had 16 kills en route to MVP honors.
“That first set was not my best, but I just knew I could put that aside and play for this team and play hard and play for each point,” Cox said. “And that’s how I got back in the system.”
But Maiden was a more than worthy opponent. The Blue Devils showed why they were also undefeated, putting up one of the best blocks the Jaguars had faced this year and rarely making attacking errors.
Maiden took the third set 25-18, just the ninth set Carrboro had dropped all year. But the Jaguars roared back in the fourth.
There were too many magic-wand-worthy plays to count.
“The Maiden team played incredible today. They were an all-around fantastic team,” Scanga said. “They really didn’t have many holes, and we really had to play a good match to take the championship, so kudos to them for being a formidable opponent. I’m glad we got the job done.”