by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
WAKEFIELD — Anytime two top-ranked volleyball teams meet, the encounter is bound to be a battle.
That’s especially true when both squads are walking onto the court undefeated in conference play.
Both Wakefield and Broughton High School volleyball teams entered Tuesday’s meeting looking to gain sole position of first place in the Cap 8 conference standings.
Broughton won the conference matchup 3-2 on the Wolverines home court by scores of 17-25, 25-23, 24-25, 25-21 and 15-11; the first five-set match for both teams this season.
The Caps, 11-1, and 7-0 in the league, clawed their way back from a 2-1 deficit, mounting a come-from-behind effort following a crucial time out to secure the victory.
‘We knew coming in that this game was going to be a battle and we knew we would be facing a big and talented Wakefield team,” said Broughton coach Traci Smith. “We were prepared to play them until the end and we did just that.”
The Wolverines played without senior hitter Darian Mack, who leads her team in attacks and kills. She is out on a day-to-day basis nursing an ankle injury.
“I’m sure Darian would have made a difference,” said Wakefield coach Cynthia Terrell. “I’m not taking anything away from Broughton because they played a great game and we expected a battle with them but we didn’t have our complete team together.”
Wakefield came out strong in the first set and went on a seven-point run powered by timely kills from hitters Maya Muldrow and Julia Forbes to seize an eight-point win.
The second set was close the entire way and following a 12-12 tie, Broughton scored six consecutive points, including five aces by Katja Ehlers.
Play was then delayed due to a substitution issue with a Wakefield server. After about 10 minutes of discussion, play continued and the Wolverines were down 15-18.
Two consecutive points by Amaya Rousseau tied the score at 18-all but the Caps scored the next three points. The closest Wakefield could get was within one point of Broughton.
“I think that delay also broke our momentum,” Terrell said. “When the momentum changes like that, it’s hard to get back into the flow of the game. When we started making mistakes, Broughton was there doing a good job of capitalizing on them.”
Broughton earned a slight advantage to game three and extended its lead to 17-12.
Despite building that lead, Wakefield scored the next three points to pull within 17-15 and then closed the gap at 18-17 on a kill by Forbes, forcing Broughton to call a timeout.
The Caps maintained that lead until Muldrow scored on a kill to tie the score at 20-20.
Both teams exchanged points and following a 21-21 tie, the Wolverines took the lead for good and went up 24-21 with Gabby Benda serving.
“The momentum was rolling back in our favor,” Terrell said. “We were hoping to feed off of that and win the match.”
But what worked in the first and third set didn’t carry over to the next set and the Wolverine hitters had trouble finding their mark.
“We started making little fundamental mistakes,” Terrell said. “We were not doing the little things right.”
“And we allowed Broughton to get emotionally in the match,” she added.
The only time Wakefield led in game four was at 1-0. The Caps took a 2-1 lead and never looked back as they put the Wolverines in a hole from the start and built a lead.
Wakefield committed several serving serving errors as they tried to play catch up. Broughton’s hitters played aggressive and they started finding holes in Wakefield’s defense.
The Wolverine’s biggest threat was Ehlers, who finished the game with a double-double, including 20 kills, 19 digs and six aces.
Wakefield rallied back in game four and on a kill from Jordan Glass, pulled to within 17-18; however that was as close as they got to the Caps.
Broughton began game five confidently and at one point in the set, outscored Wakefield 5-0.
“I think the biggest factor for us today was our defense,” Smith said. “We did a good job stopping their attacks.”
“And our outside hitters also made a difference,” Smith added.
Wakefield will start the second half of conference play today (Thursday) at Heritage.
“We’ve played everyone now and we know we can be beat,” Terrell said, “Anybody can beat anybody.”
“We’re looking to continue to play competitively and hoping for good things in the second half of the season,” she added.