All good things must come to an end, but it can be argued that neither Broughton nor Panther Creek deserved a trip home as early as the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association volleyball playoffs, but a new seeding system placed both sides in the same bracket.
Broughton took the first two sets en route to a 3-1 (25-22, 25-19, 19-25, 25-20) victory and a match-up with Cardinal Gibbons on Saturday.
“Well, when I saw the new brackets … I thought ‘Our half of the bracket is loaded, I mean it’s sick,’ there’s so many good teams and (Panther Creek) is one of them,” Broughton coach Jim Freeman said, “I knew it was going to be a war. They pushed us to the limit.”
The Capitals (20-1) had won 16 consecutive sets before the Catamounts – outside of when the set was tied 11-11 – led for the entirety of set No. 3.
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“I’m not ever one of those guys who likes ‘good losses’ and stuff like that, I hate losing,” Freeman said. “There was nothing good about it.”
Regardless, the Capitals’ confidence is high, especially after defeating a two-loss opponent in four sets.
“We’re hard to beat, we have kids on both ends,” Freeman said. “It’s that time of year, every match is going to be really difficult, but it’s going to be fun and we’re going to enjoy it.”
Broughton senior Kalee Vanderhorst recorded her 1,500th career kill, a mark that Freeman has only seen one other time in his 24-year coaching career.
After being at Southwest Wake Athletic Conference afterthought, the Catamounts (20-4) have won two straight SWAC titles and set school win records in back-to-back years – a trend that coach Karen Garmon predicts will continue.
“I think a lot of people thought our level of play was going to drop off (this year) losing a Division I athlete to Wake Forest and then our starting libero moves to Texas, people thought we were going to be a mediocre team,” she said. “Our seniors came in and said, ‘No, we’re Panther Creek and we’re going to win.’”
She continued: “Winning is absolutely becoming a tradition. We broke a school record at 20-2 overall and next year we’re going to try and break that next year.”