Broughton’s volleyball team looked the part of a state 4A contender in early August – but that was on paper and before the season.
On Tuesday, they looked the part in person against perennial power Apex.
The Capitals battled the visiting Cougars and came away with a thrilling 3-2 (16-25, 25-19, 29-27, 19-25, 15-5) victory.
“It was stressful at some points, but we bonded as a team and made it through,” Broughton hitter Katja Ehlers said.
Broughton has a national champion in sand volleyball (libero Genna Simpkins), a Division I recruit (Adria Johnson), one of the area’s best setters (Kati Smith), and a 12-time state championship coach (Jim Freeman).
But how well they all jelled, with Johnson and Freeman new this year, was going to show in a match like this.
Ehlers said that even with some new faces, the Caps have been close-knit from the start.
“We bonded from the first instant. From our first practice we clicked,” Ehlers said. “We got to know each other really quick.”
Add Ehlers to the long list of reasons why the Caps (No. 2 in the N&O rankings, 2-0) can dream big this season. She had a game-high 21 kills.
“That’s no surprise. She’s a great all-around player,” Freeman said.
Another thing was apparent after the game.
When Apex’s Abigail Veit is on her game, the Cougars are hard to beat.
And that doesn’t seem to change when she’s out either.
In the middle of a career day, Veit sprained her ankle during the third game, landing on a teammate’s foot. She had 16 kills at the time.
But Apex (No. 3, 1-1) nearly came away with the game, losing 29-27, and rallied to win Game 4, 25-19.
Senior Anna Patrick was one of those filling the void left byVeit. She had five of her eight kills after Veit left the match.
Ally Beckman, a College of Charleston recruit, did her part as well, finishing with 12 kills.
“I think our chemistry is awesome,” Apex coach Emily Regan said.
Regan noted that Veit’s ankle didn’t swell, taking it as a good sign.
After a Veit-less Apex pushed it to a fifth game, Broughton scored the first eight points of the deciding set and led 10-1 at one point thanks to four aces from Smith and four kills from Ehlers.
Apex’s hitters posed problems for Broughton’s defense in game one, never trailing en route to a 25-16 score, but the Caps made the right adjustments to take the second game, 25-19.
“I was pleased with our guts. Apex played really hard, really great. We were lucky to win,” Freeman said. “Apex could’ve just as easily won that as us.”
Smith had eight aces and six kills. Johnson, who is committed to Pepperdine, had six kills. Teammate Tiana Butler had seven kills and six blocks.