Published: Oct 08, 2012 05:57 PM
Modified: Oct 08, 2012 05:59 PM
FUQUAY-VARINA - This year’s plan for coach Jeff Pagel’s Fuquay-Varina volleyball team was simple: Earn a winning season.
That may not sound like an ambitious goal, but it set the bar high given the program’s history.
Pagel said he doesn’t think Fuquay has ever had back-to-back winning seasons – though documentation of that claim isn’t readily available – and it has not happened in the Bengals’ decade-long run as a 4A program.
Until now, that is.
The Bengals are 13-6 this year with two regular-season games to go.
“We want to get past the first round this year because we want to keep making school history. We just want to keep building this program. It’s going to be step by step, but in the long run we want this to be a winning, top program,” said junior libero Abby Findley. “So far, we’ve gone from ‘You can get an easy win against Fuquay,’ (to) now, ‘Every team is going to have to put up a fight against Fuquay,’ and our next goal is to be, ‘Fuquay is going to win this big game.’ ”
Fuquay hasn’t produced many college-level players in recent seasons, but it has accomplished back-to-back winning years despite losing two such players from last year’s team. Instead of falling off, the Bengals got better.
Last year’s team went 12-10 and was the sixth-best team in the Tri-Nine Conference, advancing to the playoffs as the only wild-card in the 4A East.
In 2012, the Bengals already have clinched an automatic bid, with playoffs set to start Oct. 20.
“It feels like we’ve accomplished making our program bigger than it was,” junior Saraya Klink said.
As evidenced in its Thursday 3-0 win against Athens Drive, the Bengals can be patient in their attack because of their faith in their defense. The Bengals fell behind early in the first game but won 14 of the last 18 points to take the set 27-25.
Senior hitter Dana Lingenfelser has been consistent, and so has Klink. But Klink has had to adjust this season, starting the season outside but moving back to a middle blocker during the year to quicken the Bengals’ offense.
“It’s opened up some of our other hitters to take some swings, too,” Pagel said.
Pagel’s team is built on defense, and it starts with Findley, a returning all-conference player.
“They have so much faith in me and the defense, and I know that I’m going to play my best for them,” Findley said. “I want to pull through for them. I just love this program, and I want to win.
“I just want to win.”