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Meagan Sanchez OPHS ‘16 is making a name for herself in WCU volleyball

Western Carolina University liked what it saw regarding Osbourn Park High School’s Meagan Sanchez, and she liked what she saw of the university.  The school approved of how Sanchez played volleyball, her student record and her character. She liked the beautiful setting of the school in Cullowhee, NC, just miles outside of Asheville, and the opportunity to continue to play volleyball. So she enrolled at WCU and just completed her first volleyball season.

Sanchez knows she made the right choice to study at Western Carolina. This season went from the end of August until mid-November.  All three freshman started for a very young team that finished the year with a 11-19 overall record and 6-10 in the Southern Conference. 

Sanchez was a Libero, a defensive volleyball specialist.  She was identified by wearing a different color jersey than her teammates.  As a Libero she can replace any player in a back row position but cannot serve, block or attempt to block. “I sometimes chase down balls off the court,” Sanchez said.

She was recognized during the season as a top notch defensive player, measured by the digs she made.  A dig is a pass of a hard-driven ball from the opposing team. When the ball is attacked by the opponent, she often kept it alive by keeping it from hitting the floor.
“Volleyball requires reflexes, and it is a mental game,” said Sanchez.  “Digs need quickness and reading the opponent.” Sanchez was named the Southern Conference’s Defensive Player of the Month for matches in November. She led the Western Carolina Catamounts’ (wild cats) defensive effort over the season’s final month, with 20 or more digs in each of the final five matches of the year.

Sanchez is just the second Western Carolina player to win this monthly honor since its 2006 inception. She joins former Catamount, Morgan Cochran, who earned the defensive award in September of 2013. Sanchez also was named the Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Week in mid-September.

She led Western Carolina defensively, averaging 5.95 digs per set over the season’s final five matches. Of her 511 season digs, 119 were during the season’s last month.  She finished third in the Southern Conference with 4.56 digs per set. She helped her team finish the year ranked third in the conference in digs with an average of 15.96 per set, and fourth in the league in limiting opponents to just a .188 attack percentage.

Sanchez had tremendous games against Chattanooga, Mercer, The Citadel and UNCG (University of North Carolina at Greensboro) at the conference championship. She earned Southern Conference second team Libero as a result of her strong freshman season.  She produced double-digit digs in 27 of 30 matches including 11 matches with 20-plus digs. Her career best 28 digs came in the five set season finale loss at the 2016 Southern Conference Championship against number 2 seed, UNCG.

Karen Glover is the head coach of the Catamounts. She is assisted by Travis Nead. The team puts in many hours reviewing film to identify opponent tendencies. It will practice in the spring, preparing for next year.  Last year there was only one senior on the Western Carolina 12-member team.  Five freshman will join the team in the fall.  Prospects for next year look good for Sanchez and her teammates.

Sanchez’ parents followed her travel team from their Bristow home when she attended Osbourn Park High School and played on a travel team. That team won the regional Atlantic Coast Power League championship.  Now that she’s in college, they frequently drive to Cullowhee, NC to see her play. Next year a more experienced and deeper team and her defensive prowess should lead the way to more wins. This would make the eight-hour trip for the Sanchez family even more enjoyable. 

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