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2009 All-area Team ?girls’ Volleyball:

Cool in the clutch

Spartans standout hitter rose to the occasion at every critical moment during season

January 02, 2010|By Seth Amitin

“With two older sisters, we seriously had a house full of Barbies and American Girl Dolls,” said Courtney’s mother DeeDee McCutchan. “Courtney had no interest in any of it. Her favorite toy was her ‘Grow to Pro’ basketball hoop she got for her first Christmas. She was only 10 months old and she was obsessed with making baskets.”

As she grew older, volleyball became more central and she followed her older sister, Kim, to La Cañada High, where Kim mentored her in her freshman and sophomore years.

“Kim was always very supportive,” Courtney said. “She helped me learn how to play on varsity and I tried to do that for the freshmen this year.”

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In 2008, La Cañada won the Division II-A championship and McCutchan was named CIF Southern Section Division II-A Most Valuable Player.

At the start of the 2009 season, that was a far-away dream, as La Cañada had lost two valuable seniors in Cami Martin and Madison Anderson to graduation. They were replaced with two freshmen: Katie Pierce and Micaela Anderson.

But in hindsight, the transition was very smooth.

Anderson and Pierce filled in quite nicely with 239 and 218 kills, respectively, while sophomore Claire Hilsen, a middle blocker, led the team in blocks.

Part of that, Pierce believes, was because of McCutchan.

“She was a big help to us,” Pierce said. “She pushed us to play hard in every game. She would tell us what spots were open and where to hit it. She’d encourage us every game.

“She’s the kind of player I want to be.”

As the season began, McCutchan, Anderson and Pierce alternated for team leads in kills in each match.

But when the big cross-town rivalry match against Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy came up on Sept. 29, McCutchan took the lead with 13 kills.

La Cañada defeated Sacred Heart for the first time since 2003, 25-17, 25-15, 25-16.

“I had never beaten them,” said McCutchan, a four-year varsity starter. “Plus, my best friend Mary [Schroeder] is on the Tologs and she was always talking about how they kept on beating us.”

Both McCutchan and Schroeder played with the San Gabriel Valley club team during the high school offseason, but ended up on opposite sides of Foothill Blvd. during high school.

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