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Led by youth, Captains’ volleyball moves on to CAC final with convincing 3-1 win

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It seems like a distant memory, but at one point in the season the Captains’ volleyball team was 11-11 and struggling to find an identity. After defeating Marymount 3-1 in the Capital Athletic Conference semifinal, it is safe to say CNU has found its groove.

“Our team has really gotten together recently. I think in preseason we were used to each other because we are such a young team, but it has finally come together in the last 12 CAC matches,” said freshman outside hitter Briana Sutton.

Sutton led the team with 19 kills, and she believes the team has found the right line-up to set up for success. “We finally got the line-ups and chemistry down, which has allowed us to be successful the second half of the season,” said Sutton.

The Captains got out to an early lead with a 25-15 win in the first set. Marymount wouldn’t go away though as they battled back in the second set, winning 25-22 to tie the game at one. CNU knew they couldn’t get complacent with any type of lead.

Sutton remarked on CNU men’s soccer team blowing a 2-goal lead in their CAC semifinal game on Wednesday. “We beat them 3-0 previously in the year, but they were all close [sets]. We saw what happened to the men’s soccer team losing after having a 2-0 lead, and we knew we had to keep our focus,” said Sutton.

After dropping the second set, CNU didn’t trail again, jumping to a big lead in the third and fourth sets on their way to a victory and a berth in the CAC final, a feat that didn’t seem possible midway through the season.

“In the second set, we got a little down, but we knew in the third and fourth sets, if we kept passing and kept pushing, we would control the energy and the game,” said sophomore setter Rachel Conway, who led the team with 45 assists.

A Captains’ team with a plethora of young talent has been able to lean on freshmen outside hitters like Briana Sutton, Harper Smith and Hannah Miller to guide the team during their last run of the season. “Our freshmen are so incredibly talented, and I think they have really come into their own as the season has gone on,” said senior middle blocker Chastity Lacy, the lone senior on the team. Lacy believes she leads with her voice and play on the court to settle down the younger players. “I am a pretty loud person, so I do a lot of talking on the court to help everybody relax,” said Lacy.

CNU will host the CAC final on Saturday at 3 p.m. in the Freeman Center against Salisbury, and the Captains believe they have the right mindset to win the conference championship. “We need to stay positive in our roles and stay mentally focused; sometimes we get rattled because we’re so young. We just need to stay calm and play the game we play in practice, and we will be great,” said Lacy.

When asked about their chances of going back to the Elite Eight, the NCAA tournament’s quarterfinals, Sutton had no doubts. “I think there is a definite chance of us doing something great this year.”