As the year of 2012 quickly reaches it close in only a few more days we take the time to look back on the success that the Catawba Valley Community College Buccaneer Athletics were able to achieve. With 3 of the 4 teams cracking the NJCAA top 20 polls and two claiming conference and region championships we look back at the year of the dragon and wonder, was it the year of the Buccaneer instead.

Earlier in the year as the CVCC just began to start its spring semester and roll into their spring break, the Buccaneers Baseball team started to roll into the NJCAA polls. The first NJCAA DII poll came out in March, saw the 17-7 Buccaneers sitting at the #8 spot. While being ranked was not new for this team it was the first time the Buccaneers sat in the top 20 the entire season, with their highest ranking sitting them at the #4 spot in the poll.

The Buccaneers took their momentum garnered in regular season in winning the Carolinas Virginia Conference Championship and went on to claim the Region X Championship and win the Southeast District title defeating Brunswick CC in the championship game 10-1. With this win the Buccaneers went to the NJCAA Baseball National Tournament for the first time in school history.

The Buccaneers were not content with just reaching the tournament, their goal was to claim the championship. However, the Buccaneers fell in their first ever national tournament game to a competitive Heartland CC baseball team that eventually would wind up 3rd in the tournament. The Bucs dug back in and won the next two games which brought them back for a rematch with Heartland CC. Our Bucs came up just short and brought home a 5th place finish.

The Buccaneers finished the year with 40 wins, the most ever by any CVCC Athletic team. The NJCAA selected sophomore Danny Fraga to the 2nd team All-American, and the Buccaneers also placed five student-athletes on the All-Region team. Fraga finished the year 9th in the nation with a .443 batting average and 6th in the nation with a .563 on base percentage.

As the Bucs baseball team claimed their titles the year moved on into the summer and CVCC students walked the stage and moved on to new schools to complete their degrees we saw a new crop of student-athletes come into the CVCC family as August quickly approached. The first group back on campus was the Women’s Volleyball team. The Bucs came in loaded with talent and determination. In the nine year volleyball history, the Bucs have been to the National Tournament four times before, but this season the Bucs came into the season with a “National Tournament or Bust” attitude.

The Bucs started of the season hot winning each match that was placed in front of them. But it was when the Bucs faced on 0-2 hole against the strong Pitt CC squad at Pitt CC where their resilience showed and they fought back to claim a 3-2 match win. From there they would beat an eventual District H champion Hagerstown CC and jumped into the polls for the first time in the year at the #20 spot with 3 weeks to go. Our Bucs claimed the Carolinas Virginia Conference Championship with a perfect season of 20-0 in conference and 31-0 overall for the regular season.

Heading into the Region X tournament the Bucs were prepared for battle. They knew nothing short of a trip to the National Tournament would be a failure. There they disposed of Lenoir CC 3-0 and won another 5 setter with Pitt CC 3-2 claiming the Region X championship. The Bucs had to play Pasco Hernando College, the District P champion for the past 2 years, in the District P championship game. The Bucs fell in the first set but battled back and were able to defeat Paso Hernando 3-2 and claim the District P championship and earn the right to compete in the national tournament for the 5th time in 10 years.

While the Buccaneers had been to the National Tournament before this was the first time they had come in with as high such a strong arsenal of talent. In the first match the Bucs fell to the eventual 3rd place team Kirkland CC and were sent to the consolation bracket. In the first game in the consolation bracket they had to face previously unbeaten Moraine Valley CC who finished the season ranked 3rd in the polls. There the Bucs came in with vengeance quickly beating them in three straight sets for the first ever volleyball win at the National Tournament for a Buccaneers Volleyball team. The Buccaneers lost 3-1 in their next match to Phoenix College the 7th seed in the tournament.

The Buccaneers Volleyball team finished the year with an 11th place finish at nationals and an impressive 35-2 record along with a perfect conference record of 20-0. Head Coach Shannon Hudson claimed her 100th victory at CVCC in just 3 years and was named Coach of the Year in Region X and District P. Three players were named to the All-Region X team and Jennifer Beatty was named as a 2nd team All-American. Beatty had a successful year leading the Buccaneers; she finished the year 12th in the nation with 3.78 kills per set and 15th with 4.6 points per set. Beatty also set the school season record with 401 kills and kills per set.

As the leaves on the tree began to fall we found the Tarlton Complex come alive with basketball rolling into the season. The Men’s team started out on a quick pace racking up the wins and going 7-1 in just the first 8 games with the only loss being recorded to Div. I #8 Spartanburg Methodist. The team was gelling quickly and the team continued to produce on the floor. In the last weekend of the 2012 season for the team the Bucs went 2-0 which included beating the #1 ranked team in NJCAA DIII Sandhills CC giving them a 9-4 record. The sophomores have led the charge, sophomore Isaiah Cuthbertson has averaged a team high 13.3 points per game and also has 106 rebounds which ranks him 24th in the nation in the category. Cuthbertson has also recorded 4 double-double games for the Bucs. Preston Earle is second on the team with 12.8 points per game. The men will start their 2013 portion of the season on the road at Johnston CC and then will come home to face the #1 team in DII and conference foe in Louisburg College on January 8th at 7:00pm.

While the men started of strong the women came out of the cannon with a blast quickly running over teams with their potent offense and shutting teams down with their defense. The women are averaging 81.6 points per game and only allowing 50 points per game. This 32.6 point edge per game has led the Buccaneers to their best start ever at 14-0 during the 2012 portion of the season. On December 5th the Bucs broke into the polls for the first time as a four year old program at the #20 spot. A week later in the final poll of 2012 the women climbed up to the #18 spot.

The Buccaneers are led by freshman Anika Jones who has put on a display by averaging 18.6 points per game (17th in the nation), 261 points (5th in the nation), 63.5 field goal percentage (2nd in the nation) and 52 steals (6th in the nation). Freshman Kadeshia Gibbs and Gabrielle McClain average 10.5 points per game while Gibbs has 108 total rebounds (39th in the nation). Sophomore Matrice Sweezy has 50 steals which puts her 7th in the nation, one spot behind teammate Jones. The women start their 2013 portion of the season on the road against Div. I opponent Spartanburg Methodist College and will return to the Tarlton Complex on January 10th against Rockingham CC.

Overall the 2012 year was a complete success for Catawba Valley Community College and their athletic program, sending two teams to the National Tournament, having 3 of 4 teams in the NJCAA rankings and every team posting a winning record. Since the start of the school year the women’s teams have posted a perfect 45-0 record during regular season competition. While the Buccaneers may seem on top don’t ask anyone in the athletic department if they are, as far as they are concerned we are just starting to climb the mountain. Look out NJCAA; the Buccaneers are coming for your National Championships.