Athlete of the Week: Youth serves CA’s Antonucci well

Natalia Antonucci recalls her middle school days at Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach and watching the varsity volleyball team practice in the old school’s makeshift gymnasium.

Little did she know she would one day lead the same program to its first SCISA Class A state championship in the sport. Even more impressive, she’s only a freshman, so her middle school days aren’t exactly distant memories.

“I remember the girls were still serving the ball underhanded and it was usually just three hits,” said the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week. “So our program has come a long way in a short period of time.”

And Antonucci has been a big part of that rapid improvement. After two seasons under Grand Srand Juniors and CAMB coach Alex Sing, she was a regular contributor to last year’s Lady Saints’ squad, which finished runner-up to Cathedral Academy.

This time, led by Antonucci’s strong play and youthful energy, they went back and beat the same team in a five-set tiebreaker in the title match. It was mission accomplished for a team that spent a full year focused on taking the next step.

“Last year we were so close, and it was really sad walking away without the win,” she recalled. “It was almost embarrassing to go back to school and and say, ‘We were this close.’ It fueled our team this year. We didn’t just want to go back to the championship match, we wanted to go back and win it. It was our year to shine.”

Not just as a team, but also for Antonucci individually. She excelled on both lines, leading the team with 188 kills while adding 116 digs, 42 aces, and a 2.25 passing percentage to earn All-Region and All-State honors as a freshman.

“Natalia plays the game with lots of passion. You would not know she is only a freshman,” Sing said of his outside hitter. “She is a great kid to coach and has been a huge part of the success of Christian Academy.”

So what does she do for an encore? Although Antonucci hopes to play college volleyball someday, that’s four years down the road. Until then, she hopes to keep improving as a player, keep her grades up and continue hanging state title banners in the rafters of the new school’s state-of-the-art gymnasium.

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