GARNER — A year ago, Garner’s volleyball team had a talented striker in senior Kristen Powell, who set school single-season records in kills, attack attempts and blocks as she led the Trojans to a 22-4 record and their fourth straight Greater Neuse River 4-A Conference championship.
Powell, the conference player of the year in 2012, is at UNC-Wilmington this year after signing a scholarship with the Seahawks.
So the Trojans have a different look in 2013, but are off to a 2-0 start after sweeping visiting Cary on Tuesday night in a nonconference match. Garner flashed versatility and a complete game as it defeated the Imps 25-13, 25-15, 25-15 to drop Cary to 0-2.
“We played great play all around,” Garner coach Jason Boyette said. “We hit much better than we did (in a victory over South Johnston), served much better than we did (against South) and had multiple people getting aces and kills and making great passes.
“It was spread around great. Six players had a kill. That is big.”
Senior Ka’asha Jeffries had 11 kills and senior Brooke Kamphuis added nine to lead the Trojans.
Senior Courtney Weathersbee, a savvy setter with a devastating jump serve, was at the middle of it all. She had nine service aces and 21 assists.
“It all starts with the passes and goes to her next and she spreads it around great,” Boyette said of Weathersbee. “The other defense doesn’t know where she is going to go with it.”
For Weathersbee, the highlight is always an ace. She hits a low, hard serve that is tough for the opposition to handle.
“I love serving,” she said. “I’m a setter, so I don’t get many kills. Serving is my way of getting points.”
Weathersbee even managed to notch five kills, tipping the ball to open holes in the defense instead of setting up a teammate.
“You just kind of check and see if the hole is there and if it is, you go for it,” Weathersbee said.
Kamphuis, who transferred to Garner from Illinois during last season but arrived after the volleyball season, enjoys the opportunity to get into the point-scoring flow.
“We have a good athletic team,” she said. “Anybody can play anywhere. Where I came from, if you were tall, you were in the front row. If you’re short, you were in the back. Here if you are short and can jump and hit, you are in the front row.”
The Trojans’ athleticism and versatility was apparent against Cary.
Down 8-2 in the second set, Garner regrouped and went on an 11-4 run to take charge. During the spurt, the Trojans got kills from Kelsey Bryan, Jeffries and Kamphuis. And Weathersbee have four aces in a 7-0 Trojans run to end the set.
“I have to use my options this year,” Weathersbee said. “I have to check and see where the blockers are. Sometimes you want to go to the outside so that blocker has to move and we can split the blockers. It’s a big change (not having Powell), but I think we have enough talent to make up for it.”
Boyette likes the versatility of the Trojans, who have six seniors on their roster.
“It can make us harder to play defense because we have more weapons,” Boyette said. “We don’t have one go-to (player). We have several go-tos. The other defense can’t get their block set up because they don’t know what side to go to.”
For Cary coach Philip Goodloe, it was a frustrating match. “We have work to do,” he said.
Cary’s Raechel Brooks served well, recording several aces, and Becca Stead was strong at the net.
But the Trojans simply had too many weapons. And they exited their second match with a confident early-season outlook.
“We have six seniors, five juniors,” Weathersbee said. “We’ve all been together, especially the seniors. I think we are going to have a really good year.”