The Broughton Capitals volleyball machine rolled through the first round of the NCHSAA 4A playoffs, dismantling Holly Springs 25-10, 25-13 and 25-12 on Saturday at Holliday Gym.
The No. 1 seed in the East Region, Broughton (20-0) has dropped only two sets all season and trailed only once against the Golden Hawks, early in the second game. The Caps take their fast-paced offense into the second round against a peaking Apex team on Tuesday.
“They’ve got good size, they’ve got a good team,” Broughton coach Jim Freeman said. “I anticipated that that’s who we would be playing on Tuesday. The SWAC is a tough league, for sure, and at this time of the year, everybody who plays is going to be good. We’ll have to come and really do our job. It’s exciting; we’re looking forward to it.”
Southwest Wake Athletic Conference member Holly Springs (9-12) got the No. 32 seed, the final playoff berth, and the Hawks put up a good fight against the talented Caps.
“Pretty intimidating going into it,” Holly Springs coach Emily Rice said. “But I told the girls our conference is really tough, and we have competed against lots of great teams, and we’ve done well. There’s no nothing to be worried about, and as long as we play our game and we’re competitive, then we can leave being happy.”
The Hawks likely left happy, despite being outclassed in the first game. They battled to a 17-12 deficit on a pair of Malynn Clark kills in the second game before Broughton scored eight of the next nine points to win 25-13. The Caps then scored the final six points in the third game to close out Holly Springs’ season.
“We did a great job this season improving and getting comfortable with each other,” said Clark, one of three Hawks seniors. “We had a little trouble at the beginning focusing, but we really worked on that, and I’m really proud of the way we progressed on through the season.
“We did a good job rallying in this game, but it just didn’t go the way we wanted. That happens.”
Things have been going Broughton’s way all season, thanks to a deep, talented roster. Kalee Vanderhorst led with 13 kills, but the Caps got big contributions from their three senior co-captains. Tiana Butler had six kills, six aces and five digs, Kati Smith had 27 assists, seven digs, five aces and two kills, and Katja Ehlers had six dogs and five kills.
“We’ve got a lot of swingers,” Freeman said. “We can take a swing from anywhere. We’ve got the back row taking swings, and by design, we’ve got plays that we’ll run out of the back if we don’t get the pass we want up front. We’ve got more to show in that regard that we showed today.
“We’ve got a lot of versatile kids who can play all the way around.”
Holly Springs has played both teams, and Clark went against her conference mate.
“I think it’s definitely going to be who has the right mindset and who goes into it wanting to win the most,” Clark said. “But after playing both of them, I’d probably lean toward Broughton.”
The Caps may be feeling the pressure of continuing an unbeaten season, but they should be ready.
“(Apex is) really good and will definitely be competition for us on Tuesday,” Butler said. “We have to come out and play like we did tonight, as a team. I think we can do it.”