The Fayetteville Tech volleyball team, for the first time in program history, is headed for the regional tournament.
The Trojans begin play in the NJCAA Region 10 Division II tournament on Friday. As the No. 6 seed, FTCC will face off against No. 3 Wake Tech at host school Surry CC in Dobson. The quarterfinal begins at 6 p.m.
Middle blocker Da’Nya McPhatter, one of six sophomores on the team, said the opportunity to play in the tournament caps a season of growth for the second-year program.
“As a team, due to time, we’ve just built bonds together,” McPhatter said. “It’s off-the-court relationships that really help you on the court. And as a team, we’ve gotten really close, and we’ve enjoyed our time. We’ve improved our communication and our movement as a team.”
McPhatter has been a key part of the Trojans’ powerful front row. Her 0.87 blocks per set is third in the conference, and her 159 kills leads the team.
The Trojans have leaned on the experience and skill of its sophomores.
Krislyn Bullard, who took over sole setting duties this season after working in a two-setter system last year, is averaging 7.41 assists per set, fourth-best in the conference.
McKenzie Smith, who like McPhatter tops 6 feet, contributes 0.69 blocks, helping the Trojans to a third-best in the league average of 1.78 blocks per set.
Outside hitter Anna Grey Barbour leads the team in aces (35) and is the only player to average more than one kill per set (1.35) and more than one dig (3.13) per set.
One challenge facing the Trojans as they enter the tournament might be rust. The team will have been idle for 20 days by the time it takes court Friday
McPhatter, however, said that gap in action won’t be an issue for the team.
“Whenever we’re separated and we haven’t played for awhile, when we come back together, we have a spark,” McPhatter said.
Barbour pointed out that the time off has been a welcome chance for the Trojans to heal up any nagging injuries from the rigors of the season.
“We had some injuries, and this gave us time to rest up and get over that hump,” Barbour said. “We are a little rusty, but we’ve been practicing all week, so I don’t think that will be an issue.
“I think we all have the mindset that we’re ready to go to regionals and win,” Barbour said.
— Jaclyn Shambaugh, Sports Information Director