Athletics News

Cavs Corner: Fall Sports Season Preview, Part 2
Posted 08/30/2017 05:17PM

By Andy Pogach, Assistant Director of Athletics and Sports Information Director, Varsity Girls Tennis Coach
Twitter: @daathletics
Instagram: @dacavsathletics  

After three weeks of our varsity teams being “full steam ahead,” we have come to an “all-stop” for a week of trips. All students in grades 5 to 12 will spend at least some part of this week off-campus on a class trip. While a few sports may have practiced early in the week, none of our teams had competitions and they will come back from Labor Day ready to dive back in to the meat of their schedules. This gives me a great opportunity to continue our fall sports season preview, with this week’s spotlight on the volleyball and field hockey teams. We’ll also take a look back at a successful end of last week for our varsity teams.

Season Previews

Coach Heidi Kearnan’s volleyball team is poised for a strong season, and hopes are high for a return trip to the state tournament. After a 9-16 record and first-round tournament appearance in 2016, the Cavs have started this year 3-3 after Friday night’s thrilling five-set win over N.C. School of Science and Math.

Leading the charge for this year’s team is sophomore captain setter Adriana Kim. Kim, who Kearnan calls the floor leader for the Cavs, has already made her mark on this year’s team, as she leads with 158 assists and is second in service aces with 14. What’s even more impressive is the fact that Kim, like many of our student-athletes, excels off the court and is able to balance volleyball with being a nationally ranked member of the debate team. Also returning to the team is senior captain Ellie Palmer. Palmer leads the team in aces, is second in blocks and is fourth in kills. Kearnan says she is a “six-rotation player whose defensive play is critical.” Junior Michicko Haynie has started strong this season, with her 54 kills leading the team by a wide margin. Kearnan describes Haynie as the team’s “go-to hitter.” Senior captain Annie Witte is the team’s off-court leader. She keeps the squad organized and on-task. 

While state champion North Raleigh Christian will likely continue to be at the top of the class of the TISAC, Kearnan hopes her team can compete for second place in the league, which would help get them into the state tournament. After a 1-2 record in the Southlake Christian tournament to open the season, DA will compete Sept. 8 and 9 at NRCA’s “Volley with the Knights” tournament, a large event featuring all the teams in the conference and many of the state’s best private schools. One of Kearnan’s goals this year is to finish in the top 8 of this event, but to do that her team will need to play with some consistency. In fact, consistency seems to be a theme that Kearnan is focusing on with her girls, as they will be tested day in and day out in league play. Her hope that the team will “get better every day both in practices and matches” ties into that theme.

Last week’s two matches certainly show the Cavs’ need for consistent play in order to be successful. In Thursday’s match against the Durham Flight homeschool team, DA quickly fell behind two sets to none. However, the Cavs rebounded with a near flawless third set and a 25-11 victory. After a tight 26-24 fourth set win, DA could not carry the momentum into the fifth and final set as they had to play catch up and eventually lost 15-11. The very next day, DA had the opposite start against N.C. School of Science and Math, winning matching 25-20 sets to go up 2-0. However, the Unicorns came roaring back to take the next two sets 25-22, 25-17 to send it to the deciding fifth set. The Cavs played a strong fifth set thanks to the hot serving of Palmer, who had two of her four aces in that final frame to take a 15-10 win and a 3-3 record into the trip break. 

Field Hockey
Heading into the break for class trips, the field hockey team is 4-2 and focusing on a monster match-up with Charlotte Country Day on Sept. 8. The Cavs once again participated in Cary Academy’s pre-season event and finished 3-1 with wins over Jordan (11-0), Chapel Hill (2-0) and Cary Christian (2-0) and a 4-1 loss to Charlotte’s Myers Park High School. Just five days after their win over Cary Christian, the Cavs and Knights faced off again, this time with the Knights victorious 4-1. DA rebounded on Friday afternoon with a 3-1 home win over Cardinal Gibbons. 

Longtime coach Judy Chandler has 11 seniors on her 2017 squad and is hoping to compete for a state title. That goal is the norm for Chandler, whose team owns DA’s last state championship, earned five years ago. Since their state title in 2012, the field hockey team has reached the championship game once and the semifinals three other times. The Cavs’ season has been stopped by Charlotte Country Day or the eventual state champion in three of those four years. 

Chandler notes that the Cavs’ new goalkeeper, junior Ellie McGhee, will hold a lot of the team’s future in “her hands (and her feet!).” McGhee has stepped up to the challenge so far this season with a 1.5 goals against average and two shutouts in her first six games in goal. A trio of Cavs lead the team in scoring with three goals each. Seniors Callie Pierce and Cat McNish along with junior Eleanor Robb headline a balanced scoring attack as four more players have scored two goals on the year. Robb leads the team with four assists. Chandler says Pierce, Robb and senior Serafina Turner will be the squad’s key players this season. Turner and Pierce have already made their mark, as they were named to Cary Academy’s all-tournament team. 

Chandler is also excited about two ninth-graders who will be impact players in a sport that is traditionally dominated by upperclassmen. Katherine Lantzy (one goal, one assist) and Jaden Simpson (two goals, two assists) have already shown they will be strong contributors this season. In fact, the “freshman connection” combined for the game-winning goal in the Cavs’ tournament win over Cary Christian. With Charlotte Country Day and Charlotte Latin looming on consecutive Fridays and Providence Day coming to Durham in October, Chandler hopes that her team is ready to compete with the Charlotte trio of schools that will once again be the top teams in the state. Her senior-laden team with a dash of young energy will be ready for the challenge. 


Week in Review

The boys soccer team remains unbeaten after Friday night’s 5-1 win at Cary Christian. The Cavs’ defense continues to shine, allowing just one goal per game over the team’s first four contests. Sophomore Ryan Kirschner netted a hat trick — including his team-leading sixth goal of the year — while senior Carter Owen had two goals, including this penalty kick score.


Junior Nick Epstein added two assists, while Owen and sophomores Will Nichols and Crosby Williams notched assists. For Epstein, it was his team-leading fifth assist on the year. Coach Julian Cochran’s team will have a big measuring stick right away after the break, as they travel to Jordan High, a team ranked 10th in the latest News & Observer top 25 poll. The game is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Wednesday evening. 

Girls tennis is now 5-1 and ranked ninth in the News & Observer top 25 poll after a 6-3 win over traditional tennis power East Chapel Hill. East, a state champion favorite after dropping down to 3A this year, becomes the fourth state champ contender that the Cavs have faced in their challenging schedule this year. The sophomore duo of Madeline Towning and Renee George combined for a comeback win at second doubles and followed that with straight set singles wins for three of the Cavs’ six points against the Wildcats. The third doubles team of captains Nicole Riepl and Julia King remains undefeated after an 8-3 win on court three. Sophomore Alexis Galloway shook off an 0-3 start for a 7-6, 6-0 win on court two, clinching the team win. The final point came from eighth-grader Mukta Dharmapurikar, who outlasted her senior opponent 6-3, 7-6 on court six. The Cavs return from the trip break with a match-up against a young and talented Greensboro Day School on Wednesday afternoon at home. 

The cross-country teams opened their seasons with impressive meet wins last Thursday. The boys team had nine of the top 10 finishers as they took the meet with 17 points, well ahead of High Point Christian (57), Henderson Collegiate (88) and Wake Christian (90). The trio of senior Ethan Goldman (17:40), sophomore Mark Alkins (17:51) and junior Jack Anderson (18:01) finished first, second and third. The girls squad also turned in a dominating performance by placing the top eight finishers in their win over High Point Christian and Wake Christian. Sophomore Fran Pacchiana (22:06), senior Cami Simpson (22:11) and ninth-grader Quinn Shanahan (23:43) were the top three for DA. We will have more information next week in our season preview of the cross-country team. 

The girls golf team opened the 2017 season last week with a 10-stroke loss to Wesleyan Christian in High Point. While the Cavs fell short, two seventh-graders made the top three, giving coach Greg Murray a positive feel for the future. Ona Lukes and Kayley Kim, along with sophomore Brooke Aurentz, were the top three scorers for DA. The golf team will be home on Thursday, Sept. 7, against North Raleigh Christian and the O’Neal School. More is to come on the golf team in next week’s season preview.

Our varsity teams will be back in action next week, and our junior varsity and Middle School teams will start their slate of games as well. We hope to see you at an athletics event! Check out next week’s composite schedule of games below. As always, thank you for your support of DA Athletics!

Click infographic below for full resolution.


Keeping up with the Cavs

As always, you can keep up with the Cavs on Durham Academy’s website and the DA App: Schedules and Results

The DA App: Schedules and Results

  • The DA App allows you to keep up with athletics wherever you are. You can download the app from iTunes at The DA App pulls athletics content directly from the DA website and delivers it to iOS-based devices including iPhone and iPad.
  • The Athletics portion of the DA App (after launching, click Menu, then click Athletics to open) features results of recent games, a list of upcoming contests and team records.
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