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by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
WAKEFIELD — As the school year is set to begin, so too begins the quest for a state Championship for the Wakefield volleyball squad.
Bringing back most of their team from last year, the Wolverines are looking for even better results than in what turned out to be their most successful season to date.
The team, now a year older and a year stronger, is more driven to take the state title and has reason to be optimistic.
Wakefield’s volleyball team has achieved much over the past few years and a big part of their success is this year’s senior class.
Together they have won two Cap 8 Conference championships and have made three trips to the 4A North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs.
In the past three years, they have gone 67-10 overall and 39-3 in the league.
Last season, the Wolverines reached the quarterfinals of the playoffs, loosing out to Leesville Road, the eventual 4A state runner-up.
After winning the first set 25-15, Wakefield was up 14-13 when starter Darian Mack rolled her ankle on an attack. She had to sit out the remainder of the match.
“I am now fully recovered and really looking forward to my senior year,” Mack said. “We seniors want to make this season a memorable one by going to the state championship and winning it. That is our one goal.”
The Wolverines finished 12-2, in second place in the conference behind the Pride.
“We all have the same goal this season and that is to win the state championship,” said senior Jordan Glass. “I’m really happy to be playing with these girls and we want to make a difference this year.”
The Wolverines should be better offensively and defensively because of their depth on the court.
“This team is so diverse in its talent, they don’t have to lean on just one or two girls to do any job,” said coach Cynthia Terrell, who is starting her 12th season with Wakefield.
“I think this year’s team is hungrier,” Terrell added. “And if we can stay healthy and happy, then we will go far.”
In addition to returning most starters, the Wolverines have height: six players measure six feet or taller.
“This is the tallest team I’ve had in about eight years,” Terrell said. “Their skills and athletic ability are phenomenal. There are no limits on what they can do, If they are going to be stopped, they will be stopped by themselves.”
Helping to lead will be Cap 8 all-conference senior Gabby Bender.
Bender had 758 assists for Wakefield last season and 251 points off services, including 76 aces.
“I think we will be better this year,” Bender said. “Our offense will be strong and we will be really good defensively.”
Adding depth to the attacks this season will be senior middle hitters Glass and Mack who together accounted for 151 of Wakefield’s total 187 blocks last season.
Also on Wakefield’s roster are two transfers: senior Maya Mulfrow, a 6 foot, 1 inch, all-conference player from Enloe and Bunn transfer, junior Amaya Rousseau, who stands 6 feet.
Junior Shelby Talik is back after being sidelined with an injury last season along with junior Julia Forbes and senior Emma Malka.
“We have a great group of girls and I cannot wait to see how the season turns out,” Malka said.
“This year should be an exciting year,” Forbes said. “We have gotten used to each other and we should have a great offense that will translate to a great defense.”
Talik agreed. “I am excited to see how things will play out now that we have a whole new set of girls playing,” she said. “I can’t wait to see how far our skills take us.”
Junior Ashley Assa and Jackie Fernandez moved up from the junior varsity team and Gentry Bender is the lone freshman.
The expectations are always high at Wakefield.
“We don’t settle for less,” Terrell said. “The players know what is accepted and they will keep pushing no matter what.”
“If we play within ourselves and execute effectively, we will be okay,” Terrell concluded. “I am fortunate to have young ladies who are passionate about the sport.”