The Catawba Valley Buccaneers went swashbuckling through another regular season. Head coach Shannon Hudson and the Buccaneers started the season with a 3-0 loss at the beginning of the season to Cape Fear Community College, but they rallied and won 10 of their next 11 matches en route to a 19-5 overall record.
CVCC ended the season 12-2 in conference play and earned the top seed from the West at this weekend’s Carolinas-Virginia Conference volleyball tournament at Rockingham Community College in Wentworth.
“If we play hard, there is nobody that can stop us,” said Francesca Edgerton, one of only three second-year players on the team. “Everybody has to bring their ‘A’ game, and there is nothing we can’t achieve if we play our ‘A’ game.”
That “A” game became more prevalent toward the end of the regular season. Buccaneers head coach Shannon Hudson said the team picked up its level of play and that will help going into this weekend.
The Buccaneers play at 1 p.m. Saturday against Johnston CC, the No. 4 seed from the East. They also have a potential match-up with Pasco-Hernando out of Florida, which finished the season 28-6 overall.
The idea is to make it beyond the regional tournament, get to the national tournament, and get over the hump. CVCC advanced the past two seasons to the National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament, and it was shut out both times in the first round.
“Every time CVCC has been to nationals, we have never won a game,” Edgerton said. “We are want to get that far, and we have the team to do it. Once we get to nationals, I really think we could break some records there.
“We just have to step up as a team together and play as hard as we can play.”
To get through this weekend’s regional tournament and back to the national tournament, CVCC has worked on three things throughout the course of the season. The Buccaneers practiced consistent serving, better defense and blocking, and adjusting to a faster pace of play.
“My biggest thing has been serving because if you miss a couple of serves, it really deflates you as a team,” Hudson said. “It can change the momentum, and volleyball is such a momentum sport.”
First-year player Breckin Settlemyer said the team did “lots and lots and lots of drills” to improve in all three categories. She added the biggest improvement came with serving. The team divided into three groups and served the ball in a relay — to see which team could do the best in the least amount of time.
“Looking at us from the beginning of the season to the end of the season, we’ve progressed so much,” Edgerton said. “We just have to bring it.”
Edgerton — one of four players with more than 100 kills this season — leads the offense for the Buccaneers. She has a team-high 271 kills in 24 matches and averages 3.08 kills per set — more than one kill higher than Megan Clark’s 1.84. Clark is second with 160 kills, Settlemyer is third with 145, and Erin Collins is the fourth with 138.