*Update (11/17/2015): Potomac Falls High School senior Holly Carlton has officially signed her National Letter of Intent to play volleyball at the University of North Carolina.
(November 20, 2014) – Potomac Falls High School junior Holly Carlton has made an early verbal commitment to join veteran head coach Joe Sagula at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she will continue her volleyball career starting in the 2016-2017 academic year.
“The recruiting process started the summer after my sophomore year, and has been a crazy ride since. I have been blessed with many opportunities around the country, but feel great to say that I am a part of the UNC program,” said the 6-foot-5 Carlton. “It feels like a weight is lifted off my shoulders to be done with the process and know what my future holds.”
One thing Carlton’s future certainly holds is a top-notch collegiate volleyball program.
In his 25th season as the Division I Tar Heels head coach, Joe Sagula has led UNC to a No. 5 ranking in the country with a 22-2 record including a 13-1 season in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tarheels will travel to Notre Dame on Nov. 21 as their regular season winds down in the coming weeks.
“I will add versatility, being a setter and a right side, and my fiery competitive spirit and work ethic,” said Carlton of what Sagula should expect of her play at the next level.
Sagula – who has also received a verbal commitment from Loudoun County High School junior Taylor Borup – gets more than just a versatile setter, right side competitor in Carlton, he gets the VHSL Conference 14 Player of the Year who led the Panthers in kills, assists, aces and passing while leading the team to a 17-11 record.
“I think Potomac Falls is going to have a lot to show next year. This year, with only one senior, we highly exceeded expectation,” said Carlton who also plays for the Metro American Volleyball Club. “We have a very inexperienced team, but we have a lot of fight, and that’s what wins games. Our coach, Linda Lachey-Helms, is known for developing inexperienced players. This summer we will be working very hard with our coaches to be able to compete with the best teams next season.”
Born in Virginia’s state capital, Carlton will head south to North Carolina’s college athletics capital – a region where UNC, Duke and North Carolina State are all within 30 miles of each other – to compete and learn at one of the nation’s most respected universities.
“UNC is a very highly regarded school academically that will set me up for life after college,” Carlton said. “The volleyball program is the right fit for me. I believe that in my four years we will be able to win a national championship.”
Carlton has the ambition to compete in volleyball thanks to her sister Kayla’s tough love practices after school when Holly was in third grade.
“She wanted to be a hitter so after school every day we would go outside, and she would hit balls at me as I tried to pass them back to her until she hit me in the face, and then we’d go inside,” Carlton said. “I’d find myself outside the next day.”
With an innate nature to compete, Carlton started in organized volleyball in the fifth grade and has found her passion.
“Ever since, I have fallen in love with the game,” Carlton said. “I continue to play volleyball because it hasn’t been something that’s been easy for me the whole way through and continues to challenge me. It is a fast moving sport and there is always something new to learn.”
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Heritage High School in Leesburg and is currently in his senior year at Syracuse University. Follow LoCoSports on Twitter (@LoCoSports) for up-to-date news and scores from around Loudoun County.