PCA Fall sports preview: Volleyball Raiders go for a three-peat

Published 4:56 pm Thursday, August 17, 2023

Brandon Tooley is part of a four man senior class for the Raiders soccer team. (Submitted)

Luke Rouse is one of the top runners in the TIC. (Submitted)

Kaitlyn Williamson is one four returning senior tennis players. (Submitted)

The Lady Raiders volleyball team has made plenty of history the last several years. They are the defending back to back 1A state champions, four time defending Tar Heel Independent Conference regular season champions and six time defending TIC tournament champions.

The most decorated player in program history, Reagan Stoop, has moved on to play for Bridgewater (Va.) University after setting the program record for kills, service aces and service points, while earing conference player of the year honors the last four seasons.

The returning seniors include Alden Taylor, Autumn Gibbs and Reagan Walker with classmate Ginny Pugh joining the team this fall. Anna Stoop is the only returning junior, with seven of her classmates now joining the varsity squad.

Anna Stoop was All-Conference, All-Tournament and All-State last fall while setting a school record for assists in a single season. Gibbs was All- Conference and All-Tournament while Taylor made All-Tournament team. The Raiders have a challenging non-conference schedule, hosting 3A John Paul II and Arendell Parrott Academy to start the season. Melanie Eddleman enters her fifth year as head coach with an 82-11 career record.

SOCCER: The boys soccer team has high hopes for another successful season this fall. Over the past two seasons, the Raiders have gone 21 – 8 – 1, with the 21 wins being the most in a two year span in school history. 10 players return off last year’s squad while PCA welcomes five newcomers.  The seniors are Bo Spencer, Maddox Lee, Austin Garrish and Brandon Tooley. Spencer will take over in goal for the Raiders with the departure of Jay Askew. Lee will take over at striker, replacing cousin Davis Lee who led last years’ team with 33 goals.  Garrish and Tooley will anchor the Raider defense that shut out four opponents last season. The Raiders open the year against state champion favorite Crossroads Christian at home. PCA will also host Oakwood School and Kerr Vance Academy in 1A non-conference action. PCA is coached by Victor Chavez who enters his sixth year with a record of 35 – 25 – 1.

CROSS COUNTRY: The Raiders cross country team is looking to make a return to the top of the conference after a last place finish a season ago. Ninth grader Emily Copes is the top returning runner for the girls while junior Luke Rouse looks to defend his TIC Runner of the Year crown. The Raiders will travel to conference opponents Albemarle School, Ridgecroft School and Lawrence Academy during the year and host their own meet September 11th. Tia Copes will take over as the head coach of the program after spending the last two years as an assistant.

TENNIS: The girls tennis team is hoping to take a big step forward with six players returning from last year’s inaugural season. The Raiders finished 1 – 10, but anticipate a few more wins this year with more experience. Seven of the 10 players are seniors, including four who played last fall. Melanie Rutledge, Reese Blackman, Kaitlyn Williamson and Reagan Spruill are the returning seniors while Katie Baxter, Scarlett Williams and Savannah Pence are seniors joining the team this year. The Raiders have a 14 game schedule highlighted with trips to defending 1A state champion Oakwood School and 2A Epiphany School. Conference opponents will be Northeast Academy, Lawrence Academy and Ridgecroft School.

Jason Williamson will take over as head coach in his first year with the program.