Cape Fear Christian Academy’s first varsity volleyball win of the season was a hard-fought one, as the Eagles overcame a slow start to beat visiting Berean Baptist Academy in five sets to start Sandhills Athletic Conference play Monday. Individual set scores were 15-25, 28-26, 23-25, 25-19 and 15-4.
“The whole key for us is for each girl to take ownership of her own mistakes,” said Cape Fear Christian coach Paul Hobbs. “That’s what I stressed over and over again, was ‘You know what’s right. You know what’s wrong. We’ve talked about this in practice. If your feet aren’t there and you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing, then you need to adjust yourself and bring yourself back in line with the team.’ It was great. They all took ownership of their issues. We tried to really eliminate silly mistakes. Our goal was to have less than five silly mistakes a game. That was the key.”
Senior Claire Parker had 11 kills to lead the Eagles (1-2, 1-0 SAC) offensively.
“We have a lot of opportunities for different players to contribute,” coach Hobbs said. “One thing I’m trying to get these setters to do is to realize who has the hot hand. Claire did have the hot hand and we switched everything to her. We need to always find that hot hand every time.”
Senior Marlee Butler had 27 digs, Rhyleigh Horne had 15 digs, junior Cailee Ray had 13 digs and senior Mariah Bell and eighth-grader Sara Shaw had 10 digs apiece to lead the Eagles on defense.
“I don’t think they realize how important the back row is,” coach Hobbs said. “I think it’s the most important job of a volleyball team. Without that, nothing happens. You can’t get a set and you can’t get a kill unless those passes are right. Once they got dialed in and they got quicker, everything helped.”
Abby Hobbs had seven kills, 10 assists, six digs and two aces on eight service points. Madeline Brocious had four kills, one block, two digs and four aces on 10 service points. Bell had two kills, two blocks and two aces on 11 service points. Butler had two kills, two assists and four aces on 14 service points. Ella John Dupree had two kills and four digs and held serve for one point. Larah Tripp had one kill and one block. Horne had 13 assists and one ace on nine service points. Ray had one assist. Parker had two digs and one ace on two service points. Shaw had one ace on three service points.
Junior Talia Martin had 11 kills and eight aces on 17 service points to lead the Bulldogs (2-2, 0-2).
After struggling in the first set, the Eagles rallied to edge the Bulldogs in extra points in the second set. The Bulldogs narrowly won the third set before the Eagles finished the fourth set strong to send the match to a decisive fifth set.
A strong start was the key for the Eagles in the fifth set, as they opened the set with eight unanswered points. The Eagles used that momentum to dominate the set and finished the match with Brocious serving back-to-back aces.
“I just can’t say enough about the heart of these girls,” coach Hobbs said. “We’ve had a rough couple of games. To see them fight back like this and be successful shows the heart of these girls. Confidence is a big thing. These girls needed this win. We all needed this win.”
Cape Fear Christian has a home non-conference match against Riverside Christian Academy (0-2) on Thursday.