The News & Observer’s No. 1-ranked volleyball team since late August completed its first regular-season undefeated record in school history Wednesday night with a three-game sweep of Bartlett Yancey.
Or did Carrboro?
Jaguars head coach Steve Scanga is exploring a final tune-up match on Saturday against Panther Creek before next week’s start of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A playoffs.
The veteran coach, whose team advanced to the 2A semifinals the last two years, is more interested in preparing his team for postseason competition than protecting an undefeated regular season record.
“If we’re undefeated at the end of the state tournament, that’s what you want,” Scanga said. “But at this point in the season it’s more important to play tough competition than be undefeated. I’d still want to play another tough match if we were 17-5.”
As a 2A school that schedules 4A and 3A teams in the regular season, Carrboro is an anomaly in the Mid-State 2A Conference. The Jaguars dominated their Mid-State foes with a 10-0 record in regular season play before winning the Mid-State tournament with Wednesday’s sweep of Bartlett Yancey for the third time this year. The Jaguars won by scores of 25-14, 25-16 and 25-12.
“I think if we keep playing like we did tonight, we can go far in the playoffs,” said Christine Alcox, a 5-foot-10 senior. “I like how the team is really working well together.”
Alcox and 6-2 junior Destiny Cox are Carrboro’s thunder-and-lightning combo at the net.
Cox, who committed early to North Carolina, is an intimidating presence that slams rockets. She finished with 12 kills and two aces.
“We wanted to play clean volleyball,” said Cox of not overlooking the mismatch. “We wanted to play the way we know we can play.”
Alcox, who is committed to North Carolina Central along with her sister Diana Alcox, is quick off her feet and bounds across the court like a ballerina. She finished with seven kills.
“We’re proud of being No. 1,” she said, “but we know we have to keep playing hard.”
Senior setter and team captain Grace Maggiore, who is committed to NCAA Div. II Franklin & Marshall in Lancaster, Pa., balances the lineup along with freshman defensive specialist Destinee Dorsey. Maggiore finished with 16 assists and Dorsey added eight digs and five aces.
Scanga said he also experimented in the match with different lineups. He also liked the jump serve Cox displayed to record two serves.
“I want to know if I can rely on that in the playoffs,” he said.
Carrboro’s early-season climb to No. 1 could have led to the Jaguars peaking too early or feeling pressure, but Scanga thinks his team has played with maturity to avoid such a slip.
“I think we’ve played extremely well,” Scanga said. “We played tough teams and we played on the road. I like to play on the road. It’s good to play somewhere you’re not familiar but still play your game.”