A first-round 3-0 loss in the Triangle Independent Schools Athletic Conference tournament may have been the end of the year for Wake Christian’s volleyball team.
Aware of the unlikelihood that the TISAC would get all six teams into the playoffs, players and parents lingered a little longer at Cary Academy, taking photos and sharing hugs after the match.
The Bulldogs (10-12) ended the year last in the TISAC, which makes a case for the strongest top-to-bottom volleyball conference in the state. Durham Academy was the league’s defending champ and North Raleigh Christian won the regular-season crown, Ravenscroft ended the year with just four losses, Cary Academy is a NCISAA powerhouse, and St. Mary’s has arguably the top player in the state.
When players look back to this season, they can be proud that Wake Christian, in its first full fall season in the TISAC, fit in.
Wake Forest recruit Hailey Brooke McFadden, a junior, did a little bit of everything for the Bulldogs. The team is filled with players just learning the sport, but the improvement was noticeable in a 3-2 loss in the regular season to Cary Academy. The Bulldogs also took St. Mary’s and Ravenscroft to four games.
“Just competing has been a huge step for our program,” said first-year Wake Christian coach Malcolm Deans. “I’m only looking for it to improve each year. A conference like this, you can’t just step in and take it. It’s going to be a continual progression in building the program.”
McFadden stands 5-foot-6, but she had a monster year in almost every category, with 422 kills, 563 digs and 49 aces. The offense ran through her; no other Bulldogs player had more than 52 kills.
“Having her as our floor captain and teaching has been a huge benefit,” Deans said. “The energy she brings to the court is contagious.”
Deans credited McFadden for having humility. In the loss to Cary Academy, she comforted and encouraged teammates who made mistakes.
“It goes a long way in how she connects with these girls. She could have a very different attitude toward it, but it says a lot about her character that she’s willing to reach out and help, to make her team better and not just her,” Deans said.
The Bulldogs will lose seniors Natalie Pierce (149 digs), Haley Sauls (454 digs) and Holly Glover (52 kills) next year.
Sophomore Emily Smith led the team with 465 assists, and freshman Marley Wilson had a team-high 39 blocks.