Freedom Christian sneak past Gaston Day on Saturday in Matthews to claim the NCISAA 2A volleyball championship.
MATTHEWS – Derek Bing and his coaching staff of Jim Seidel and Tyler Smith knows their Gaston Day volleyball team will eventually have a shining moment to call its own in another state championship.
Making the most of a pair of outside hitters and capitalizing on its opponents’ mistakes, Freedom Christian got past Gaston Day in a close final 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-22) to claim the NCISAA 2A state championship.
“They just played better than we did today,” Bing said following the match played at Carmel Christian School in Matthews. “I think if we played them 10 times, the teams would probably wind up pretty even. We’ve played well as a team in pressure situations this season, but I don’t think we responded well here at the championship game today. We were just off.”
Things got off to a rather inauspicious start for Gaston Day in the opening set, plagued by countless double contact infractions. Despite such obstacles, the Spartans found themselves right in the thick of things, tied 20-all.
The Patriots would take that momentum with it into the second frame, using a fast start to put Gaston Day into an 8-point hole. While the Spartans were able to battle back and cut the deficit to three at 15-12, Freedom Christian would stem the tide and the next nine points en route to a 2-0 advantage.
″(Having Wooten and Barac) is like going to the candy story and just picking out whatever you want to eat,” said Freedom Christian Wyndee Mathias. “You just sit down and enjoy it. Watching them two do what they do best is much the same.”
Said Bing: “They are high level outside hitters, and it’s a challenge when you have to defend that for all six rotations. We’ve defended teams like that, and we are a team like that. A lot of times team ask those same questions about (how to defend our outside hitters). We just weren’t able to put the pressure necessary on them today.”
Barac had three of her team’s final five points, which included a pair of kills and a block. Her final kill of the match brought the Freedom Christian student section from their seats and onto the floor to celebrate the occasion, while sending Gaston Day players to the bench to console each other.
For the season, the Spartans finish 22-9. Despite falling in the state final, Bing sees a bright future ahead for his team, which will feature all but three players from this year’s team in 2019.
“So far in the last two years we have a lot of young players, including some middle schoolers who dress out with us on varsity,” he said. “And the future is very bright. We had to get this experience of playing for a state championship … next time we play in it I think we’ll respond better. There is no substitute for experience; next time we will be a little more ready.”
Coaches Seidel and Smith also coach national volleyball teams at Carolina Union Volleyball Club in Charlotte and Bing coaches the 13 national team at Upward Stars in Spartanburg, SC.