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Athlete of the week: Central Davidson's Melissa McMath

Central Davidson's Melissa McMath (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

Central Davidson has had its sights set on the Central Carolina Conference volleyball championship since the season started.

Melissa McMath has helped the Spartans keep that goal within reach.

McMath, a sophomore who stands nearly 6 feet tall, has proven to be an unstoppable force above the nets for Central. Led by her high-flying kills and rocket serves, the Spartans are 7-1 in the CCC with two games left to play. If they hold serve against Lexington on Tuesday, and the Dragons top East Davidson on Wednesday, their meeting at Central on Thursday will determine the conference championship.

While West has won or shared the conference title for 19 straight seasons, the Spartans have improved steadily to put themselves in contention with the Dragons. “We’ve worked on more complicated drills to help us improve our skills,” McMath explained. “And we work together as a team.

“As long as we think positively, with no negative attitudes, we can come out on top.”

And when McMath is on top, she’s usually all by herself. Setter Kamber Skeen tries to get the ball way above the net for the entire front line. But there’s no doubt, opposing teams’ blockers focus heavily on stopping McMath — which is hard to do.

But she insists they like to spread the wealth, whether it’s her, Kassie Miller, Alex Halbach or another hitter doing the damage. “We try to give it up about equally,” she said. “It’s not all about one person, it’s about all of us.”

They all played well last week, and McMath was certainly in the middle of it. The Spartans dropped the first set before rallying for a victory over Salisbury on Tuesday. The Hornets weren’t a pushover, as they have been in years past; that was obvious after Salisbury beat West Davidson in their first meeting. Central then hammered East Davidson in three sets, putting itself in position to make a championship run this week.

McMath played basketball last year, and saw some minutes in the post as a freshman on varsity. But she was a little timid in traffic, a far cry from the attacking force she proves to be on the volleyball court. It’s a matter of drive, she said. “I love volleyball,” she said. “My heart’s in volleyball. And I know I work harder on it, than I do in basketball.

“I feel I’m more aggressive in it.”

She will have to maintain that aggression, with the stretch run on the horizon. If the Spartans are to beat West and win the conference title, McMath will have to keep rising above their opponents.

Jason Queen can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 220 or