Cape Fear Christian’s middle school volleyball team held off a late rally from visiting St. John Paul II for a 2-0 win by scores of 25-18 and 27-25 to claim the Southeastern Conference tournament championship on Tuesday.
Cape Fear Christian finished the season with a 15-1 record and also won the SEMSAC’s regular season championship.
“We ended up being 15-1,” said CFCA coach Mary Beth Young. “I’m just coming in as a new coach, so I did not really know what to expect with our conference. But these girls have been amazing from the start to the finish. They have been just hard workers throughout the whole season and they have a really strong mental focus to finish a set when it gets close. I’m really proud of them and overall, probably one of the best seasons I’ve coached in a long time.”
Kaedyn Moran had 15 kills and Lily Kate Dupree had 14 assists and three aces on eight service points to lead the host Eagles.
“They’re an incredible duo,” Young said. “Only being in sixth and seventh grade, they’re going to have a long career of working together and having very successful seasons. They just have this trust on the court and off the court.”
Jada Johnson had two kills and three aces on four service points. Olivia Gonzales had one kill. Jessica Talley had one assist, one dig and one ace on four service points. Julia Scott had three digs and three aces on four service points. Olivia Byrd had one dig and two aces on four service points. Dupree had one dig. Moran had three aces on four service points.
The first set was close until, with SJP II leading 13-12, a service error started a 5-0 run for Cape Fear Christian. The visitors stayed within striking distance, but a late 7-2 run, capped by a Talley ace, gave Cape Fear Christian the set.
In the second set, Cape Fear Christian was on the verge of closing out the match, holding a 23-16 lead, when St. John Paul II rallied with a 9-1 run to take the lead. But Moran ended the match with a kill, assisted by Dupree, followed by back-to-back aces to secure the championship.
Two eighth-graders, Jada Johnson and Olivia Byrd, were able to end their time with middle school volleyball on top.
“Olivia Byrd was new this year and she was a great addition to our team,” Young said. “Jada played last year for the middle school and from my understanding didn’t get to play as much. But she really stepped up this year to become one of our good back row players.”