Chatham Charter takes the court
Chatham Charter School didn't win its first varsity volleyball match Monday evening, but there were a lot of firsts to celebrate.
It was the first home sporting event of any variety for the Knights and the first varsity contest for the new school, which is grades kindergarten through sophomore this year, which says something about the varsity teams - at least officially varsity if not of varsity age - the Knights will field for volleyball, tennis and cross country this fall.
The Lady Knights fell in three sets, 25-16, 25-15, 25-9, to visiting Woods Charter. The first two sets were close for part of the way, until tough serving and steadier play by Woods Charter led big rallies.
In the opening points, and it didn't take the Lady Knights long, Emmi Farrell served the first ace in program history followed a few points later by Lexie Culberson hitting down the first Lady Knight kill.
The Lady Wolves, from Chapel Hill, led 13-9 in the first set. A service run by Becca Rover, sparked by Victoria Allyse Martin's play above the net for two kills in the run, made it 18-9.
Moriah Tavana, with a fine jump-serve which the Lady Knights had problems with, served five straight aces starting set two.
Chatham Charter played well once getting into rallies. Lady Wolf serving, led by Tavana totaling 18 aces, was the main weapon.
The Lady Knights got short service runs by Azhia Hackney and Culberson, fighting back within a 14-13 Woods Charter edge. Chatham Charter couldn't get back to a tie or better.
A huge jump-serving run by Tavana took the third set from another competitive game early on to a 23-7 Lady Wolf margin.
Martin finished with a team-high seven kills and setter Rose Holden had nine assists for the Lady Wolves.
Result aside, a supportive, enthusiastic crowd turned out for the special event. There were cheers as the starting lineups were announced, which was a new experience for the Lady Knights, then with markers such as the first point for the home side and following the final handshakes.
On the court, head coach Matt Wilkins said most of the match was a sure sign of improvement, especially considering the team formed and began practices on Aug. 1.
"We're making steps and improving every day," Wilkins said.
The Lady Knights played in a preseason jamboree in Durham on Aug. 9. The difference with the one week of practice in between is remarkable said Wilkins, who graduated from East Carolina last school year and is a K-8 physical education teacher at Chatham Charter.
"It's a really good group of girls. They all get along and there's good chemistry, which helps us out," he said.
More practice time, repeating the fundamentals and the chance to grow as a team - the one clear positive to see with a varsity squad of freshmen and sophomores - give the Lady Knights a lot to build on.
"There's a very bright future for this team," Wilkins said.
The next Lady Knight home date is 5 p.m. Friday versus Uwharrie. Lady Knight tennis opened Monday with a match at Page. Chatham Charter cross country has its first meet Friday afternoon at Calvary Baptist Day.