Along with joining Broughton’s volleyball team, Kati Smith could have quite possibly gone out for the school’s drama club.
The senior setter seems to have a knack for improvisation.
It’s something that comes with years of experience in her position, Broughton coach Jim Freeman said.
“She’s been doing this a long time,” Freeman said, “so she’s got a lot of kids she can set.”
In Broughton’s 25-22, 25-17, 25-15 sweep over Middle Creek to open the season Tuesday night, Smith led the match with 29 assists, hitting six targets.
Due to less-than-desirable service receive early, she had to set up to outside hitters Katja Ehlers (10 kills) and Kalee Vanderhorst (17 kills) more than others.
But Smith was just happy to have options.
“I’ve got everything I need, so it’s cool,” Smith said after expressing how much she missed high school volleyball. Her coach said injuries prevented her from playing club the last two years.
When she wasn’t orchestrating Broughton’s offense, Smith improvised against a feisty Mustangs squad. Middle Creek led for a majority of a close first set before the Capitals pulled away for the first game of the sweep.
Smith captured the second round with a setter dump, dropping the ball off to uncovered ground.
The 5-foot-9 Smith swiftly moved out of the way when she dug up a Middle Creek push, setting her feet in case she’d have to attack.
Smith sent down two kills and led Broughton with 12 digs for good measure.
She said it was necessary in order to “mix it up” against a fast-swinging Middle Creek team.
“They definitely had some key people that we had to try to get around,” Smith said. “They could do damage if we would have set right into their blocks.”
Broughton is coming off of a 20-1 season; its only loss was in the 4A East regional finals against Greenville Rose.
The Caps (1-0) picked up a transfer outside hitter from Greenville Conley in Vanderhorst, who kicked her attacking into high gear to complete the sweep Tuesday night.
Smith is one of the key returners from last year’s team.
Though the team opened the season with a clean sweep, Broughton coach Jim Freeman said his Caps have work to do.
Smith picked up her 29 assists even though Broughton couldn’t run its ideal offense.
“When serve receive struggles, we really couldn’t run our offense well,” Freeman said. “It’s better that she (Smith) was able to orchestrate things. That’s when we saw swings from other players rather than just keep chucking it outside.”
Smith and middle Rachel Byrd hooked up for back-to-back points in Set 2, sparking a Caps rally.
After advancing the furthest the program has ever been last season, Broughton volleyball has big plans for 2015.
The early matchup illustrated how the Capitals, even the likes of Smith, are still “rounding into game shape,” Freeman said.
As for his senior setter: “She’s a real solid, smart kid. She did a good job.”
Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan