Caldwell Volleyball: Still Flying High!
Special report to Greensboro Sports by Chris Black
It’s been just over a week since the Caldwell Academy volleyball team claimed the state championship and the Eagles are still FLYING HIGH!
A season that began back in September with so much uncertainty amid shifting start dates, opponent schedule changes, fan attendance policies, and worries about Covid-19 in general – ended on Halloween day with the state championship match being hosted by Caldwell Academy.
Coming into the 2020 season, the Eagles were one of the favorites for the state title. They returned 5 all-conference performers from the 2019 season along with a strong supporting cast and always excellent coaching from Dan Bozarth. Unfortunately, in the first match of the season, 2019 Conference Player of the Year and All State selection – Sophia Plasman, went down with a minor knee injury and would not return until the playoffs started. The Eagles quickly regrouped around their 3 senior leaders – Christina Phillips, Lindsey Macdiarmid, and Gabby Black to put together the best regular season in school history: a perfect record of 16 – 0, with several victories over highly ranked teams. Their performance on the court helped secure the #1 seed for state playoffs and home court advantage throughout.
The Gaston Day Spartans, seeded #2, would be the Eagles opponent for the state championship. Gaston Day was led by 2 returning All-State performers from the hitter and libero positions, and the Spartans rolled into the state championship match also with a perfect record having not dropped a set all season. State athletic association guidelines would only allow 25 total spectators in the gym for the championship match – this was divided into 13 for the home team and 12 for the visiting team. Using some creativity, Caldwell hosted a watch party for the match in their open air pavilion behind the gym to allow other family, fans, and students to watch the match in a safe and socially distanced environment.
The championship match was a microcosm of the regular season for the Caldwell Eagles. Solid all-around performances from multiple players along with great contributions from the entire rotation led to a 3 set sweep for the Eagles as they claimed the championship. The offense was paced by Sophia Plasman with 14 kills, Lindsey Macdiarmid with 12 kills, and Gabby Black with 10 kills. Delaney Gilboy provided 2 kills and solid defense at the net. Strong serving by Macdiarmid (6 aces) and Reagan Carlyle (4 aces) was also critical to the victory. Christina Phillips turned in another outstanding performance at setter with 32 assists. Madison Bozarth with 15 digs, 2 kills, and 1 ace from the libero position. Kinsleigh Newkirk scored the championship point on a big block at the net to give the Eagles the victory. After a momentary celebration on court, the entire team ran out the back door of the gym to celebrate with the students and fans who were attending the watch party outside.
Coach Dan Bozarth on his 2020 state championship team: “This may not have been the most talented team in Caldwell volleyball history, but every player executed their role perfectly over the entire season – it’s why they’re the champions”.
In this craziest of seasons, the Eagles volleyball team may have turned in the greatest athletic season in school history: State Championship. Conference Championship. Undefeated Season. Zero sets dropped in playoff run. Multiple wins over teams that finished ranked in the top 10 in 2A and 3A classifications, including a win over the eventual 3A state champion. The Eagles were the only team in the NCISAA private school classification to finish the season undefeated.
***********Congratulations to the Eagles on their Championship Season!**********
++++++++++And in a way too early quick look ahead to the Fall 2021 season, the Eagles should once again be among the contenders for another run at a state championship. The Eagles volleyball program has reached a point where they don’t rebuild, they just reload. Expect the Eagles to be led in 2021 by hitter Sophia Plasman and libero Madison Bozarth. Along with solid returning players Delaney Gilboy, Kinsleigh Newkirk, and Sarah Angel – breakout seasons are expected from Elizabeth Jones, Danielle Phillips, and Reagan Carlyle to add with continued development of Julia Hamadi. Fans should once again have reason to expect big things from the Eagles in 2021.++++++++++
Courtesy of Chris Black