Carter playing big role for ranked RedTails in first season

Leah Carter has played a key role in the RedTails success, starting in the defensive row and serving. Carter has racked up 183 digs on the season, averaging over 2.5 per set.

Earlier this year, Leah Carter decided to continue playing volleyball in college. She signed her letter of intent in early January to take her talents to Hawkeye Community College and go from being a Savage to a RedTail. Carter was part of head coach Scott Weston’s recruiting outreach efforts leading up to the RedTails inaugural volleyball season.

After 21 matches, the RedTails have a record of 16-5 and are currently ranked number 11 in the NJCAA polls. Their most recent victory came on October 10 when they hosted North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC), whom they swept in three sets. The first couple sets featured rallies by both sides, but Hawkeye was able to come out on top each time 25-21, 26-24.

“This team has been down multiple points multiple times this year, but they don’t get fazed,” Weston said. “I tell our girls you can’t score six points at once. If we keep digging and digging, once that belief returns, these girls can play with anybody.”

The RedTails trailed by a point late in the second set which gave Carter some pressure packed moments when she found herself at the service line. She showed no sign of being nervous and stepped up to the line, serving a couple well-placed balls over the net like she’d done multiple times in high school. Her team went on to win back to back points, giving her the opportunity to serve to win the set and complete the comeback. Carter followed that up with another well placed serve, but this time the hard-fought point ended up going to NIACC.

I just think about getting it over and in and letting my team play it out and get the point. Not trying to get an ace but having us play together and get the point,” Carter said. “I’ve had my ups and downs this season, but overall I’m playing pretty decent.”

She’s been thrust into a new role for the RedTails, playing in the back row, compared to playing as the primary setter when she was in high school. Despite having to transition to a different spot on the court and have different responsibilities, it was something she was ready to take on from day one.

“I didn’t play a lot of defense in high school, so I’ve been working hard at it. It’s definitely a lot faster pace than I’m used to, but I like it a lot,” Carter said. “If I were to play again in high school, I’d rather play defense than set.”

After winning the first couple sets, Hawkeye continued to push and hold onto the momentum into the third set. While the first couple sets were close and could’ve gone either way, the third set wasn’t nearly as close with Hawkeye starting to wear down NIACC throughout. The visitors put together one short rally but once that ended it was all RedTails, resulting in a 25-16 win.

Carter finished the night with 13 digs, the most she’d had in a month, and only missed on two of her serving attempts.

“Leah is a versatile player and anytime you have a parent that’s played high-level ball, you know you’re getting a good student athlete,” Weston said. “Her being able to set for us when we need and step into the back row is huge for us. She’s made a difference for us. You can tell she’s having fun and enjoying what she’s doing and that’s half the battle. Her big thing was she just wanted to be on the floor playing and when you get a student athlete who says that, you know she’s worth it.”

While Carter may not fill up the stat sheet, she’s been and continues to play an important part in the RedTails success, starting in multiple games. On the season, Carter has 183 digs, over 2.50 per set, 14 aces and two kills.

“Leah doesn’t do any one thing over the top, she’s just solid in each area. She’s a player you can count on to get a big pass or make adjustments on the floor,” Weston said. “She doesn’t get fazed or rattled and those players are hard to come by.”

Hawkeye has four more regular season matches scheduled with their next one being on October 17 at Northeast Community College, with the rest coming on the road to close out the month.