The date was October 14. The Western Carolina Lady Catamount volleyball team had just lost to arch-rival Appalachian State on their home court in Ramsey and were staring at a dismal 8-12 overall mark, above .500 at 6-5 in league play. Something needed to happen.
That something turned into an eight-match winning streak, and 11 victories in their last 12 matches prior to the conference tournament. In the conference finale battle from Charleston, SC, the Lady Cats battled back to defeat Appalachian State in the seasonal series rubber match before bowing out to eventual conference champion, Davidson, in five.
Despite the early exit from the tournament, the Lady Cats have absolutely nothing to hang their heads about.
Head coach Michelle Hansen and assistant Ben Bodipo-Memba put together their third-straight 20-win season. They swept nemicious Chattanooga, spoiling the Lady Mocs senior night. The Lady Cats defeated Davidson on the Wildcats home floor. And they matured from a very youthful team into a battle-hardened corps.
“I’m very pleased with the 20-win season,” said coach Michelle Hansen. “I’m very proud of that especially with the way we started.”
She added, “It’s also great for our freshmen to go through that transition from not knowing their roles to realizing what they’re capable of doing.”
Leading the way for Hansen and crew was Las Vegas, Nev., native, junior Christy Attebery. She earned All-Southern Conference team honors for her performance on the court this season, leading the league with 643 kills, averaging 5.15 per game. She broke the WCU career-kills record with 1,664 and is second with 1,280 career digs.
Attebery was also named to the Southern Conference All-Tournament team for her double-double performances against Appalachian State and Davidson in WCU?s two tourney matches.
Attebery recorded 23 kills and 14 digs against Davidson and 18 kills and 10 digs against Appalachian State.
The other three returning starters from a year ago, juniors Bri Milan-Williams and Ashley Minton and sophomore Cindy Camp, were called upon early as Hansen’s squad struggled to find its identity.
Minton was sidelined the majority of the season with an ankle injury. However, she did return at a critical part of the stretch run, providing a spark and some experience to the squad.
A pair of first-year players – Pamela Stein and Sara Komosinski – stepped up big for the Lady Cats in 2000. Both players finished with over 300 kills in their first season. Stein tallied 387 with Komo recording 355.
Frosh counterpart Crissi Harrison, who is scheduled to have shoulder surgery during this off-season, poured in 251 kills in her rookie season as a Lady Cat.