Carrboro High School’s volleyball team has come a long way since the days when it struggled to just win a game.
Carrboro clinched its first conference championship in volleyball last week when it swept Graham 3-0 in a Mid-State Conference match.
The Jaguars can also lay claim to being the equal of 4A East Chapel Hill and 3A Chapel Hill. All three went 1-1 against each other.
“We have a very, very good team this year,” head coach Steve Scanga said. “We beat Chapel Hill for the first time, and we beat Cedar Ridge for the first time. We’ve beaten some very good competition.”
Carrboro didn’t just win the conference championship, it dominated the Mid-State, losing just one game in a single league match. The Jaguars (15-6 overall, 10-0 Mid-State) put the exclamation mark on an undefeated conference season with a 3-0 win Thursday night over Reidsville.
The Jaguars have won 11 straight since a 3-1 loss Sept. 9 at Chapel Hill. And even the sting of that defeat was mitigated by the fact that Carrboro had defeated Chapel Hill by a 3-2 score at home on Aug. 27 – the first time the Jaguars had beaten CHHS since their program started in 2007.
Carrboro won just four matches in its first two seasons, when the new school was playing without any upperclassmen. Last year, with Michaela Dodd as the only senior, Carrboro set what was then a program record for wins in a 13-11 season.
“This team has gotten better every year,” Scanga said.
Carrboro’s starting seniors, predictably, are the driving force behind the Jaguars’ success, led by two-time all-conference player and team MVP Marie Samek. She and fellow outside hitter Rachel Frye lead the team in kills per match, with 6.9 and 7.3 kpm respectively.
Co-captain and libero Anna Broome tops the team in both digs (8.3 per match) and successful serves (97.2 percent), while co-captain and setter Anna Tompkins leads in assists (11.3 per match) and aces (2.9 per match). “Having seniors makes a big difference for us, but we have some good young players, too,” Scanga said.
Sophomore Fionna McGuire leads Carrboro in blocks (2 per match) and is third in kills (5.2 per match), while ninth-grader Grace Maggiore almost equals Broome in aces (2.7 per match).
Notably, none of the starters rack up huge, double digits in any category, but most of Carrboro’s team gets to play in every match.
“We don’t have any superstars. But what we have is very good players from top to bottom,” Scanga said.
Having secured the league’s No. 1 seed for the state playoffs, Carrboro will have a bye in the first round of this week’s Mid-State Conference tournament at Bartlett Yancey High School. The Jaguars will play in a semifinal match Tuesday. The finals will be played Wednesday.
For the first round of the NCHSAA playoffs, Carrboro will host the No. 3 seed of the PAC-6 2A Conference, projected tentatively to be Providence Grove (12-7).
Elsewhere, Chapel Hill (18-7) locked up a 3A playoff spot with two wins last week. The Tigers swept Northern Vance 3-0 on Senior Night for Annie Linker, Catherine Romaine, Perry Ramsey, Natalie Ragazzo and Madison Gunning. CHHS then improved to 11-2 in the Big-Eight Conference with a win Thursday over Southern Durham.
Chapel Hill finishes its regular season Tuesday at undefeated Cardinal Gibbons.
East Chapel Hill (12-9, 7-2) got a huge, 3-1 win last Tuesday at Roxboro Person (12-5, 6-3) to stay in second place in the 4A PAC-6 Conference, dropping the Rockets into third. The Wildcats defeated Hillside 3-0 on Thursday and will end their regular season Monday by hosting Jordan (8-17, 4-6).