Hunt’s Stinagle earns Big East Player of the Year

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Hunt High’s Amoret Stinagle was happy to learn that she was chosen as the 3-A Big East Conference Player of the Year, but, truthfully, the senior middle hitter was happier to have just been a part of her team’s success this season.

“My goodness, it is super exciting!” Stinagle said of the honor.

Stinagle led the Big East in kills with 249 over 89 sets played while finishing second in hitting percentage at .221, fourth in total blocks with 87, sixth in service ace percent at 16.1 and 10th in service aces with 33.

“She was our go-to as far as when we needed a kill and not just hitting but also blocking,” Hunt head coach Tiffany Rowe said. “She was a key player for us and the success that we had this season.”

Stinagle helped Hunt to a 15-10 mark and a berth in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs after finishing in second place behind league newcomer Franklinton in the Big East. While the Lady Rams ended the Lady Warriors run of conference titles, Stinagle didn’t let that ruin her senior season.

“Honestly, our entire had a very great season,” she said. “We had a lot of competition in our conference this season with Franklinton and Fike and that gave us the opportunity to grow as a team.

“I think we had a really good season and I’m super proud of them.”

Stinagle’s ascent to the top player in the conference has been a steady climb. She described herself as “just awful” when she first started playing the sport in eighth grade. Stinagle credited Rowe, who took over as Hunt volleyball coach before the 2016 season, for suggesting that she play on a club volleyball team.

“Coach Rowe encouraged me to push myself and play travel ball and that was the best thing I could have ever done,” who played for Eastern Elite of Goldsboro the past two years. “It really improved my skills.”

Joining Stinagle on the all-conference team from Hunt were junior libero Allyson Matthews and sophomore outside hitter Meghan Martinez.

Fike, which finished third, had seniors Katherine Newton and Mason Blake, on the elite unit while fifth-place Southern Nash placed seniors Blair Price and Lauren Fassnacht. The other selections for the All-Big East team were Franklinton’s Amari Champion, Brittany Davis, Nikki Vernelson and Nia Richardson; Rocky Mount’s Jada Morris and Kharisma Harrison and Northern Nash’s Ashlee Brackett and Jenna McKenney. Among those accorded honorable mention were Hunt’s Brianna Moore, Fike’s Reece Nelson and Southern Nash’s Lydia Ruffin.

Franklinton’s Crystal Barnes was hailed by her peers as the Big East Coach of the Year after directing the Lady Rams to an unbeaten conference run and a 21-4 overall mark after moving up from the 2-A Northern Carolina Conference.

“We kind of knew coming in that Franklinton was going to be tough,” Rowe said. “I’m still happy with the season that we had. It gives us something to look forward to for next year.”

The Lady Warriors will lose seniors Madison Parker, Kimberly Evans, Sarah Bulluck and Stinagle. Parker earned the Coaches Award and Bullock picked up the Spirit Award as the most improved player at the recent Hunt awards banquet. However, Martinez, who was named team MVP, leads a talented group of returning players.

But Stinagle’s leadership will be missed.

“She was the first one to help some of the younger girls and some of my JV middle hitters,” Rowe said. “She’s just got a great personality and just a good person.”

For Stinagle, the highlight of her senior season wasn’t being named Big East Player of the Year. It was her last match at Hunt, a win over Fike in the semifinals of the conference tournament.

“Senior Night, being able to play with my team one last time at home was something I’ll never forget,” she said.