August 20, 2004
Chappell Carter, NCISAA.com Publisher
Cardinal Gibbons enters the 2004 season the same way they have for the past five years; as favorites to repeat as the NCISAA Volleyball Champions. Under the guidance of Coach Jim Freeman, the Crusaders have won the NCISAA 3A volleyball title for six consecutive seasons and are one of the top volleyball programs in the state of North Carolina, public or private. Coach Freeman enters his 14th year at the helm with a 252-101 overall record including 169 wins verses 11 losses in the last six seasons. Gibbons has won six consecutive TISAC conference titles and six consecutive NCISAA titles. The volleyball program has been nationally ranked on several occasions and enters this year with one of the most talented teams that Coach Freeman has ever put on the floor. However, the squad boasts five freshmen on the eleven-woman roster and that means lots of unanswered questions.
"First of all, we have eleven girls on the roster so I worry about any injuries or illnesses," commented Coach Freeman. "Secondly, we have five freshman and a total of six girls who are first-year varsity players so we have alot of question marks. With that said, we are tall and very talented and we work hard in practice. We may take some hits at the first of the season but, hopefully, we can come together in the second half of the schedule and play some solid volleyball.
Returning for the Crusaders are: 6'1 SR Right-Side Hitter - Katie Novacek - Hard worker who is in her 3rd year on the varsity. Getting college looks. 5'11 JR Setter - Christina Falcone - 2003 NCISAA All-Stater and PrepVolleyball.Com's "Super Soph 79" 5'11 JR Middle Blocker - Tara Enzweiler - 2003 All-TISAC and PrepVolleyball.Com's "Super Soph 79" 5'5 JR Defensive Specialist/Outside Hitter - Sara Uniacke - 3rd year on the varsity and one of the better defensive players in the state. 5'11 SO Outside Hitter/Defensive SpecialistCaroline Hammersly - Made the varsity team last year but sat out much of the year due to [an injured] thumb. 6'4 FR Middle Blocker - Katie Camp - Moves up from local Catholic feeder school - Very talented player already getting looks from major D-I volleyball programs. 6'3 FR Outside Hitter - Katie Kabbes - Moves up from local Catholic feeder school -Very talented player already getting looks from major D-I volleyball programs. Two of her sisters played on past Gibbons volleyball teams and sister Kelly was "Freshman of the Year" on the volleyball team at George Washington University in 2003.
Gibbons is already 1-0 this year with a solid performance over Person High School. Coach Freeman, every season, schedules the best volleyball teams from the state including as many public school champions as possible.
"We serve well and [we] are big," remarked Coach Freeman. "So, hopefully, we can stay healthy and come together as a unit quickly and get on a roll." Coach Freeman went on to say: "Much of our success should be attributed to our two assistant coaches, Casey Caram(3rd yr.) and Jason Curtis(5th yr.). Coach Caram was the head coach at a school in Oklahoma and won two state titles there. He also guided the Duke Men's Club Volleyball Team to a Club National Title. Coach Curtis was an assistant coach at Stanford University when they won their 1996 NCAA Volleyball Title and he was head coach at Archbishop Mitty [HS]in the Bay area. Archbishop Mitty is [routinely a nationally ranked] volleyball program. So, I am grateful to these guys for the job they do."
Although Cardinal Gibbons is young and does sport five freshmen with only one senior, expect the Crusaders to play with any opponent on their schedule. Once the team has molded into a unit, look for Gibbons to go on a roll and repeat as NCISAA Champs. It is a long road ahead; however, the team has the talent and history of excellence to continue "the streak."
[Cardinal Gibbons is currently ranked #97 in the PrepVolleyball.com Preseason "Century Club" National Top 100 Poll.
Gibbons is ranked #2 in the current Raleigh News & Observer's Area Top 10 Poll.]