Senior leadership is at the heart of a strong team. For many teams, it is their senior (or seniors) who lead them. For the Saints volleyball team this year, their lone senior was the one who set the table.
The Saints graduate one player this year, and although almost their entire team will be back in 2007, her teammates and coaches will surely miss senior setter Carrie Arnette.
“She’s been such a role player and such a good leader,” coach Taylor Mott said. “She’s very quiet but she’s done an awesome job of leading this team. She’s just been a very quiet leader and a very good role model. She’s such a good person.”
Arnette, a native of Gainesville and Keystone Heights High School graduate, entered Flagler as a junior college transfer from Saint Johns River Community College. She was a two-time all conference pick at SJRCC.
“She really brought stability,” junior middle blocker Jessica Wedemyer said. “She was always there, emotionally for everyone, whether we were playing up or down — a really high character person.”
Wedemyer played with Arnette both of Arnette’s years at Flagler. In her junior year Arnette split the setting duties with Katie Pommier. During that season, Arnette led the team with 716 assists, a 6.17 assist per game average. She was named Florida Sun Conference Setter of the Week for the week of Sept. 13 2005. The season ended in a regional championship loss to SCAD.
The graduation of five seniors after the 2005 campaign left Arnette as the most experienced player on a young team. Many of the players credit her with leading them by example.
“She’s just a really special person,” freshman outside hitter Justine Burkhardt said. “She’s been here ever since I’ve been here, so she’s always been the leader. She’s a great student and just a wonderful teammate.”
This season Arnette stepped her game up a notch. She recorded 1015 assists good for an 8.60 assist per game average. That also ranks her fifth in Flagler volleyball history for assists in a season. Although Arnette again split time at the setter position, this time with junior transfer Audrey Hippensteel, she still led the team in both categories.
“I think even while I’ve been here she’s improved a lot,” sophomore transfer middle blocker Leah Melton said. “She’s really surpassed my expectations. She’s a good person and a sweet girl and a nice person to have around. If not as a teammate than as a friend as well.”
Arnette’s 1731 career assists rank her second in Flagler history behind only Liz Herbstreit.
“I love this sport, Arnette said. “I’ve always loved this sport, or else I wouldn’t be here. But being a part of this team, the camaraderie, always being there for these girls, it’s like a family. It means so much to me to know that I have 12 other girls behind me plus coaches. It definitely is a highlight.”
The Saints honored Arnette in a ceremony on Senior Night, Nov. 3, at which time she got the surprise of a lifetime as her boyfriend came out on the court and proposed to her. An emotional and now engaged Arnette still fought through a tough loss to SCAD after the ceremony.
“After my fiancÃ©e proposed, I was shaky and emotional and it was hard to start the game,” Arnette said. “After that everybody was so excited and it was a lot of fun. Even though we lost, we gave it our best.”
When asked how she thinks Flagler will fare in years to come, Arnette was quick to give a prediction.
“Amazing things,” she said. “They’ll definitely reach great levels.”
“We’ll miss her,” Mott said. “For somebody to come in as a junior college transfer and do what she’s done, its pretty remarkable. It says a lot about her. She’s a great person.”