Broughton junior outside hitter Kalee Vanderhorst was named the Cap-8 Conference volleyball player of the year on Monday. It was her first season with the Capitals, whose season ended in the fourth round against eventual 4A state champion Cardinal Gibbons.
Vanderhorst, a transfer from Greenville Conley, made an immediate impact on the team. She closed her junior campaign with a team-leading 364 kills for the Cap-8 champions. She led the conference in kills and hitting percentage (.437).
“It’s super exciting,” Vanderhorst said of her recognition. “I didn’t think I would get it because I was new here. It was hard competition because there were a whole bunch of girls on my team and other girls that are just as good.”
Broughton seniors Katja Elhers and Kati Smith joined Vanderhorst on the Cap-8’s all-conference team. Ehlers, a senior outside hitter headed to play at College of Charleston in South Carolina next year, and Vanderhorst both passed 1,000 career kills this season.
“It’s definitely all about how everybody else reacts,” Vanderhorst said of maintaining her powerful hitting. “When everybody else gets hype about something I do, it pumps me up to do better.”
Broughton senior Tiana Butler was an all-conference honorable mention and is one of several key seniors graduating.
“We’re going to be a pretty good team next year,” Vanderhorst said. “We just have to play our game.”
Leesville Road’s Erin Hensler was voted as the Cap-8 coach of the year.
Hensler led the Pride to an 18-3 record and a third-round playoff appearance. Broughton eliminated the Pride on Oct. 29, and Leesville Road finished second in the conference.
Three of Hensler’s players, senior setter Meghan Gasper, senior libero Ashley Jones and freshman outside hitter and middle blocker Daniela McDonald, were named to the all-conference team. Gasper led the Pride with 609 assists, while Jones contributed 110 digs. McDonald recorded 147 kills.
Heritage senior setter Ellie Lupton, Heritage senior outside hitter Hannah Midles, Millbrook senior defensive specialist Megan Alvey, Sanderson senior right side Syndey Gunter, Wakfield junior middle blocker Gabbi Ingram and Wakefield sophomore middle Adi Owkoniran were the other all-conference selections.
They player of the year, though, couldn’t overlook her teammates for the individual honor.
“I give a lot of credit to my team,” Vanderhorst said. “It couldn’t have happened with out them.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan
Cap-8 All-Conference Volleyball
Player of the year: OH Kalee Vanderhorst, junior, Broughton
Coach of the year: Erin Hensler, Leesville Road
OH Kalee Vanderhorst, junior, Broughton
OH Katja Ehlers, senior, Broughton
S Kati Smith, senior, Broughton
S Ellie Lupton, senior, Heritage
OH Hannah Midles, senior, Heritage
S Meghan Gasper, senior, Leesville Road
DS Ashley Jones, senior, Leesville Road
OH/MB Daniela McDonald, freshman, Leesville Road
DS Megan Alvey, senior, Millbrook
RS Sydney Gunter, senior, Sanderson
MB Gabbi Ingram, junior, Wakefield
MB Adi Owkoniran, sophomore, Wakefield
OH/MB Tiana Butler, senior, Broughton
DS Alayna Schwenker, senior, Enloe
MB Ally Harper, sophomore, Heritage
Sydney Wilson - Jr. OH, Leesville Road
Morgan Fiorini - Jr. S/DS, Millbrook
Taylor Rebne - So. OH, Millbrook
Madison Wrenn - Sr. OH, Millbrook
Erin Fox - Sr. DS, Wakefield
Molly Northcutt - Sr. OH, Wake Forest
Savannah Strawbridge - So. RS, Wake Forest
Erin Hensler, Leesville Road - Coach of the Year