Not having played since Sept. 29, because of athletics being suspended due to a student at the upper school testing positive for COVID-19, the Cape Fear Christian Academy varsity volleyball team showed no signs of rust, taking a 3-0 win over visiting United Faith Christian by scores of 25-12, 25-12 and 25-11 in the first round of the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association 1-A playoffs on Tuesday.
“For a team that hasn’t touched the ball in two weeks, that was 100 percent just the love of the game coming out,” said CFCA coach Brittany Ter Meer. “It’s kind of reinforced my theory that burnout was happening. It’s kind of a blessing in disguise, although I’m not too happy because my JV would have gone undefeated and been conference champs again, I just know it.
:But it was nice that it gave the girls that chance to kind of take a break. Coming back to states and playing like the did, it was nice to see, because I knew what they were capable of.”
A pair of juniors led the Eagles (5-5) offensively. Gracie Byrd had a match-high 10 kills and one block. Leah Brannon had six kills, two assists and eight aces on 22 service points.
“Gracie being a lefty definitely helps,” Ter Meer said. “And Leah, her ball control helps the team out a lot.”
Senior Anslee McLamb, who moved back to the libero spot for the match after having played at the outside hitter position, led the team on defense with 18 digs.
“I think she enjoyed her time outside, but Anslee definitely enjoys being libero and passing,” Ter Meer said. “She’s the one rare person who actually loves playing serve receive. She’s a very good libero. She always brings such a positive energy.”
Natalia Brocious had three kills, 19 assists, five digs and three aces on six service points. Claire Parker had three kills, one assist, one block and one dig and held serve for five points. Laney Avery had three kills. Meredith Taylor had two kills, one assist, one block and one dig. Rhyleigh Horne had one kill, six assists and three aces on 14 service points. Mariah Bell had one assist. Byrd had six digs and held serve for two points. Brannon had three digs. McLamb held serve for one point.
Senior Josie Hester had eight kills and a match-high three blocks to lead the Falcons (3-9).
Cape Fear Christian opened the first set on an 11-1 run and never led by less than seven for the remainder of the set, which ended on a Brocious kill, assisted by Bell.
Cape Fear Christian started the second set with five unanswered points as part of an 18-3 run to open the set and led by double digits the rest of the way.
The third set was close early, but, holding a 12-10 lead, Cape Fear Christian ended the match on a 13-1 run, capped by a Byrd kill, assisted by Horne.
Cape Fear Christian will host the second round of the state playoffs on Friday at 5 p.m. against North Hills Christian (9-1) of Salisbury.
“Takeaway from today is I’m just going to keep letting them kind of have fun,” Ter Meer said. “At the end of the day, that’s all they really did was have fun. I didn’t really do much coaching besides little tweaks here and there. Other than that, we just went out there and played and had fun.”