RALEIGH — Broughton is on the road for its final match of the first half of conference play. The Caps will face a hard-hitting Wakefield team with tested senior leadership Tuesday, as both teams look to remain undefeated in Cap Eight play and take sole possession of first place in the conference.
The Caps (6-0) are young, boasting a starting lineup of five sophomores and a junior, but coach Traci Smith says what her team lacks in age, it makes up in spirit, spunk and drive.
“These guys are mentally tough,” Smith said. “Most of the time (young players) don’t have this type of confidence. I think it also helps that there’s so many of them the same age because they’re not apt to letting a senior take a ball or something like that.”
Broughton stayed poised last week after dropping its first set, 25-13, at Millbrook. The Caps rebounded, taking the next three sets (25-15, 25-12, 25-18) to top Millbrook 3-1 and hand the Wildcats their first conference loss.
Smith said her young players may have sensed the importance of the match and been trying too hard early on.
“It was all about getting our tempo back and playing our game instead of reacting to what was coming at us,” she said, adding that in addition to the play of Broughton’s sophomores, senior reserve Logan Ayscue has a large role in the team’s success.
“(She) is absolutely one of the best leaders that I’ve ever experienced in my coaching career,” Smith said. “She’s phenomenal. She holds this team together just by who she is and how unselfish she is.”
Millbrook (4-2) lost to Wakefield (6-0) two days later.
Wakefield, led by a front line of 6-foot Division I college recruits, has dropped just one set this season.
“This team threw us off of our game,” Millbrook coach Julee Dickens said after the loss to Broughton. “Volleyball is a game of momentum, but we need to constantly play like we’re ahead, not like we’re digging out of a hole.”
Broughton sophomore setter and hitter Kati Smith knows the young Caps have loads of potential for the future, but the team is focused on continuing its winnings ways this season.
“It’s really exciting because we just think that we have three more years of this,” said Smith, who led Broughton with nine aces, 10 kills and 19 assists. “So if we work hard this first year and try to win and go undefeated, then we have even more of a high expectation to live up to in this next two years.”