Cara Shattan setting the standard of King volleyball success
STAMFORD — The good news is the King School girls volleyball program is hoping to complete its second consecutive 20-0 undefeated season this week.
The Vikings are trying to collect their second straight New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC) Class C championship to go with three straight Fairchester Athletic Association Tournament crowns as well as three FAA regular-season titles in a stretch of 40 consecutive victories dating back to the 2014 NEPSAC semifinals.
The bad news is that Cara Shattan, the lone King senior involved in all of this vast historic résumé, is finishing her four-year Vikings’ volleyball career.
“I have one more week with Cara but I see the end of the road. When we have the awards ceremony and postseason banquet, it will hit me so hard,” said King’s veteran coach Tung Tran. “Cara came in as a freshman setter in 2013 and revitalized our passing. The love and passion she has for the sport of volleyball shows in her game here and for her team at Chelsea Piers.
“Her first two years here she led by example. The last two years she’s been a great captain as well,” Tran continued. “She is so phenomenal. She hits. She sets. She serves. She defends. If I had a team of six Cara Shattans on the court, I’d never lose a match.”
2016 Regular-season stats
King was 15-0; 86 kills; 191 assists; 190 service points; 23 blocks; 75 digs.
Even in a true team sport like volleyball, one player can make that type of impact.
But for the last four seasons, Shattan has been all about the team.
“I love being with this team in this gym. All of the success the program has had, we’ve all done together,” Shattan said. “King School is such a unique supportive community, academically and athletically. It’s something I’ll never forget.
“It is a countdown. I walk out of the gym each day excited for what we can still accomplish, Shattan continued. “But it’s bittersweet because it’s one less day with a finale and conclusion in sight.”
In football, the offense revolves around the quarterback. In basketball, the point guard is the director.
In volleyball, the setter runs the show.
It is a responsibility that Shattan has been happy to embrace.
“The setter gets to make the important decisions,” Shattan said. “The setter analyzes what the opposition defense is doing and where the weak points are. The setter makes the offense run smoothly and gives the hitters their best chance to succeed with her passes. The setter is always thinking.”
Shattan, a New Canaan resident, spent the 2013 and 2014 King seasons as the setter.
She has also been the setter during the winter, spring and summer on the Volleyball Select and National teams at Chelsea Piers.
Shattan remains undecided at this time as far as a college choice is concerned.
What has been great about the last two seasons at King is Shattan has had the opportunity to display her all-around volleyball skills.
“The 6-2 offense we run gives me so many options,” Shattan said. “I know I’m not tall enough (5-foot-9) to be a hitter in college. But I love having the chance to hit kills, do blocks and play defense here at King.”
The historic résumé — King hasn’t lost a single set in FAA play in three years and lost just one game (a 3-1 win over rival Cheshire Academy on Oct. 13) this season — hasn’t been a burden for these 2016 Vikings (five seniors, four juniors, six sophomores).
“Being 20-0 last season was so satisfying,” Shattan said. “But our philosophy is to just stay in the moment. Staying in the moment creates a better team work ethic. We treat each game as special. Our last loss in 2014 hurt so much that we don’t worry about the big picture.”
And coach Tran — with 270 wins to his credit — has kept the Vikings on an even keel.
“Coach Tran brings a seriousness and a determination to our work. He makes us look at ourselves with an objective lens and strive to improve,” Shattan said. “He is decisive in timeouts. He always exudes the correct tenor in practice and in matches. And since he’s a science teacher at King, we now understand the physics involved in volleyball.”
And this week, Shattan and the King girls volleyball team chase a third NEPSAC Class C championship in four years as a ribbon upon a span of dominance and the close to a fabulous career.