A season-opening sweep didn’t please Jim Freeman as much as his team’s early serve receive may have displeased him.
Broughton began Tuesday night’s volleyball match against Middle Creek with a slow start, disabling the Capitals best weapons. Freeman said senior Tiana Butler, who returned from last year’s 20-1 group, wasn’t set up to the entire first set, when Middle Creek captured its only lead of the night before falling 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-15).
Middle Creek begins the season 1-1, after sweeping Southeast Raleigh on Monday.
Broughton, the defending Cap-8 champion, took some time to get into a full groove. The Capitals (1-0) managed a 13-point lead late in game three behind the scorching swings from newcomer Kalee Vanderhorst.
The junior transfer outside hitter led the game with 17 kills. Her successful attacks whizzed by the Mustangs, causing some of them to contort their bodies as they flew their way.
Senior Katja Ehlers added 10 kills, as Brougton’s outside saw most of the action.
“Ideally, we’d like to see set distribution sprinkled around more,” Freeman said. “We kept having to throw it up outside when Kalee was in the front row because our serve receive was not very good. Ideally, we had it set up to have attackers from the back row and front row, but when you don’t get a good pass, it becomes really basic and predictable.”
Senior setter Kati Smith led the contest with 29 assists and added a team-high 12 digs for good measure.
Middle Creek didn’t go down without a fight. The Mustangs, down 24-13, in the final set scored twice before Broughton’s Vanderhorst sent down the game point.
“They had some good points tonight,” Middle Creek coach Adrienne Core said. “We just have to start making some of those good points more consistent. When they feel confident on their defense is when they’re at their best.”
Libero Jessica Bernath had nine digs for the Mustangs, while Middle Creek’s Emily Durham led the game with 13.
Turning point: Broughton attacking options opening in Set 2. Setter Kati Smith and middle Rachel Byrd hooked up for back-to-back points early in the second set, offsetting leading hitters Katja Ehlers and Kalee Vanderhorst.
They said it: Smith on Broughton’s attacking options: “I feel like a kid in a candy store. I’ve got everything.”
Out of bounds: A Middle Creek player accidentally hit Broughton coach Jim Freeman in the head with a volleyball after attempting to throw the ball inbounds. She saw it hurling towards his head when she released it, saying “Oh no, it’s going to hit him in the...” before the ball connected. Freeman turned around with a light smile and laughed.
Three who mattered
Smith, Broughton: Led the game with 29 assists, improvising after less-than-desirable passes.
Vanderhorst, Broughton: The junior transfer kicked her attacking mode into high gear in order to put the game away in Set 3. She also recorded five straight points to bring the Caps up to a 24-13 lead in the final set.
Emily Durham, Middle Creek: She led the Mustangs with six kills and 13 digs, manning the defense. Durham took on some of Broughton’s best hitters and often enough found success.
Morgan 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan