Broughton volleyball showcased some mental stamina in its second-round N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoff victory on Tuesday night.
It’s cool to watch. I’m proud of them. They didn’t roll over, and they didn’t totally freak out.
Broughton coach Jim Freeman on Capitals
The undefeated Capitals rallied back from an eight-point deficit in the third set before sweeping Apex 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-20) at Holliday Gym. Entering the game, Broughton had only given up two sets all season.
“We were too emotional from the beginning,” Broughton coach Jim Freeman said. “We were not playing our normal style. We were just too uptight. We weren’t managing it very well.”
He added, “We were fortunate to come back and win that.”
Apex (16-7) came out in the third set swinging – literally – after falling behind 2-0. The Cougars climbed to an 8-4 lead before ballooning the advantage to 16-8 behind kills from senior Abigail Veit, a shared block by Breanna Andrea and Alyssa Hansen and quick sets.
“We always try to focus on, once they get one point, we have to side out right away so we can get the momentum back and run with it,” said Veit, a senior who ended her high school volleyball career with a team-high 13 kills. She finished this season with 346 all together.
“I think we did that,” Veit said, “and then we struggled at the end to keep doing that.”
Broughton junior Kalee Vanderhorst led the match with 15 kills, followed on her team by senior Tiana Butler with five. Katja Ehlers and Rachel Byrd added four apiece for the top-seeded Broughton.
Through the first 21 points of the match, Broughton senior Kati Smith had only set up Vanderhorst.
Byrd was the next to get a kill for Broughton, when the Caps (21-0) took a 21-16 lead in the first set.
“Our serve-receive went really, way south,” Freeman said. “It wasn’t just a poor pass -- it was a really bad pas. We just weren’t composed. It’s hard to play good volleyball when you’re not composed. I think we did calm down after we were way in that hole, and we started playing better.”
While Apex forced its impressive third-set effort, Freeman told his unbeaten Capitals to stay calm from the sideline. He used two timeouts in that game before Broughton reeled off a 6-1 run.
Swings from Vanderhorst and serving and blocking from Butler were only some of what secured the match.
A Butler ace landed backrow to put the Caps down two and an Vanderhorst kill sliced the Cougar lead to just one. A Butler point broke 20 in front of a supportive home crowd.
“We just worked together and we talked to each other on the court,” said Butler, who led Broughton with two aces. “We had to make sure we stay together as a team. We can’t let anybody get down.”
Broughton will host Cap-8 Conference mate Leesville Road, the No. 9 seed, on Thursday at a time to be determined. The Pride went on the road to sweep No. 8 Greenville’s D.H. Conley, transfer Vanderhorst’s former team. Leesville’s only two losses on the year came against Broughton in league play.
No. 5-seeded Cardinal Gibbons remains in the race after defeating Harnett County’s Overhills. Gibbons is Freeman’s old squad, which can possibly face Broughton in Round 4.
“No. No. No. No,” he said about whether his Capitals discuss that possibility. “It’s literally one (match at a time). Everybody plays really good. We couldn’t afford looking past and we were not looking past Apex, I guarantee that. I have great respect for Emily (Regan) and their program and those kids out there. So, no, we haven’t talked about it at all.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan