Overcoming a shaky start, Carrboro swept Newton Grove Midway 3-0 Thursday to advance to the N.C. High School Athletics Association’s 2A volleyball playoffs’ fourth round for the first time in school history.
“Our seniors have been to the third round before, but we have a lot of freshmen ( 6) and sophomores (6), so this is new to them,” Carrboro head coach Steve Scanga said.
Carrboro (26-1) won 25-19, 25-15, 25-16 to move into Saturday’s NCHSAA East Region semifinals, where the No. 2-seeded Jaguars will host either No. 3 South Columbus (22-1) or No. 6 South Lenoir (19-3).
Carrboro reached the NCHSAA’s third round last year before losing to Wheatmore.
“We lost in this round last year, so everyone was a little more nervous going into this one,” Carrboro junior outside hitter Mallory Link said. “Now, wherever we finish, it’s going to be the best we’ve ever done, so that’s exciting.”
Carrboro, which hasn’t lost a set in 17 matches since a 3-1 win over 3A Cedar Ridge, fell behind 6-3 in the first set Thursday against Midway (16-8).
“We made 12 errors in the first 15 points,” Scanga said. “But once we get going, we’re very terminal; we hit a lot of balls down, we serve a lot of balls hard, we get a lot of free balls and can take a lot of hard swings.”
The Jaguars tied the first game at 8-8 and 12-12 before finally finding enough seams in the seventh-seeded Raiders’ defense to pull ahead 20-16. Carrboro won 10 of the last 14 points in the first set and never trailed again.
Carrboro outside hitter Destiny Cox, a 6-1 ninth-grader, supplied seven kills in the second set and ended up with a game-high 18.
Junior outside hitter Mallory Link served for four of Carrboro’s last five points in the second set and picked up in the third where she left off, serving for four more at the start. She made two cross-court spikes to help Carrboro win eight of the last nine points of the third set.
“Everyone as a little nervous at the beginning,” Link said. “But was we got the nerves out, we all knew what we had to do, and everyone picked it up.”
Midway second-year head coach Jennifer Honeycutt played on a Raider team that reached the 2002 NCHSAA state finals, so she knew how to relate to her players after the loss.
“This is our first time in 12 years getting into the third round, so I think it’s phenomenal,” Honeycutt said. “We knew Carrboro was a good team; they’re second in the state.
“We had them on the ropes for that first set. If we could have won that set and kept the momentum, I think things might have turned out differently.”