This week, the Asheville Citizen Times featured ACA’s Varsity Volleyball team in an article and video on their homepage. This recognition comes during the Volleyball team’s undefeated run this season. Read the text of the article below, and view it online with the video here.
The sounds of a frenetic volleyball practice echo off the gym walls of Asheville Christian Academy on Tuesday.
Athletic sneakers squeak on the parquet floor. Players sprint back and forth in organized chaos. Senior Kate Condra jumps high in the air, lifting her shoulders above the net as she sends the ball screaming down the right sideline.
The Harvard commit jogs back to her place, looking toward a nearby wall where her team’s previous accomplishments hang above the bleachers. A constant reminder of the goal at hand.
As a freshman, Condra helped lead the Lady Lions to a NCISAA 2-A state title. Three years later, they look destined for a similar finish.
“I think as a freshman I didn’t understand the magnitude of what we did,” said Condra, who leads the team with 132 kills as an outside hitter. “Now as a senior, I realize how difficult it is and how much work it takes. I want to leave the way I started, as a winner.”
Asheville Christian Academy opened the 2017 season with a 12-0 record, dropping only two sets along the way and earning a win over Caldwell Academy – the team that defeated them in the state semifinals the last two seasons.
“We are far from perfect right now,” said Raegan Waites, who broke her right hand last year but returned to full strength in the fall. “But it’s really exciting because we feel like this could be our year.”
Success is nothing new to the Lady Lions program, who won nine straight NCISAA state titles from 1999-2007 and advanced to at least the state semifinals since Torri Render took over as coach seven years ago.
Senior setter Sara Buchanan learned quickly about the pressures of winning after she transferred into ACA from West Henderson High School as a sophomore. But she said trying to live up to the legacy of the program adds extra motivation for her and her teammates.
“I think you look at all those banners and all the success the teams before us have had, you want to be one of those teams,” said Buchanan, who leads the Lady Lions with 274 assists.
But players say it’s Render’s focus on personal growth over accomplishments that has maintained a level of focus inside the program.
“To her, it’s not about how many games we win,” Waites said. “She cares about you as a person, and when she asks you to make goals, they are goals that are going to improve you as a person, not just a volleyball player.”
Render doesn’t like to compare her 2014 state title team to this year’s team, but there are some similarities.
Like 2014, the Lady Lions have five seniors on their current roster.
“It’s been really fun to watch these girls grow up and turn into leaders,” Render said. “We’ve played a lot of tough competition at the beginning of the season. I’m proud of how they responded and I think we’ve showed what this team is capable of.”
The Lady Lions begin conference play Wednesday at Carolina Day.