Archbishop McCarthy girls’ volleyball team got everything its’ coach was looking for and more at the Sept. 30-Oct. 1 Upstate Fall Classic in Greenville, S.C.
With two weeks to go until post-season playoffs, the Mavericks (13-9) won the tournament with a 4-0 record in their final major tune-up before the district tournament.
With two games against American Heritage and Chaminade-Madonna remaining in the regular season, first-year coach Corey Marks is pleased with the team’s progress despite injuries. The Mavericks are 4-0 in district play and looking for the No. 1 tournament seeding.
“We were looking for an out-of-state tournament to get a challenge, play everybody and have fun as a team,” said Marks, a former All-Star player for the Mavericks boys’ team and Erskine College. “We wanted to jell as a team, be together without school work or any worry in the world and have fun with friends.
“I have seen the team bonding when I played, how we came back from our out-of-state trips and how we excelled from there. I was hoping for that same thing with the girls.”
Marks saw the team come together as it defeated Spartanburg Christian, Palmetto (S.C.), Cardinal Newman of Columbia and Hillcrest in the final, 25-22, 23-25, 15-11.
“Everything I wanted came true at this tournament which is incredible,” Marks said. “The attitude on the court was amazing. They had the “I am the best player on the court” feeling and that’s how I was as a player.”
Junior Samantha Rodriguez, sophomore Victoria Boudreaux and freshman Gabbi Twombly led the team.
“I didn’t have expectations of winning it all but we went in there wanting to win,” Marks said. “My main goal was coming out of it healthy because of all the injuries we had. We lost Lauren Bandera for the whole year and it kept trickling down. In two weeks we lost three more girls. We pulled up a girl from the jayvee to come to the tournament.”
The Mavericks, with only two seniors on the team, have been plagued by injuries with four players out during the season including senior libero Valentina Caicedo.
Despite the adversity, Archbishop McCarthy is coming together when it counts the most. Last season the Mavericks finished 20-9.
“The girls set a goal of winning districts,” Marks said. “I think it’s achievable. Last year we lost the final in districts. We have taken it one district game at a time. They fight and work hard as a team. After a loss we talk about how we can use it and learn from it for districts. They have grasped that idea and gone with it.”
At 22, Marks is one of the youngest volleyball coaches in the nation. He is coaching both the girls and boys varsity teams following in the footsteps of his former coach and mentor Karen Frank, who after winning her first state title in boys volleyball last season, is now the school’s Director of Volleyball Operations.
Marks has been at the school since it opened, first as a student-athlete and then assistant coach. He was also head boys coach at Cypress Bay for two seasons. He has known Frank since he was 5 at summer camp. His brothers are also Archbishop McCarthy alum.
“I bleed teal and black, I love the school,” Marks said. “I am taking over for such a great woman. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I have coached with her and against her. It was awesome watching her win state last year and seeing the joy in her face and the kids’ faces. It was such a dream come true.”
Now Marks hopes to carry on the tradition.
“I love working with the girls, it’s a different aspect from the boys,” Marks said. “You tell the boys ‘get the ball up’ and they do it. With the girls it’s ‘how, why, how high’, it’s awesome. They keep me on my feet. I am learning so much. It’s a different side from what I’m used to seeing. It’s the best of both worlds.”