ASHEBORO – For an eight-year span beginning in 2013, the Asheboro High School varsity volleyball team was one of the most dominating teams in its conference. The Blue Comets chalked up a league record of 80-13 and an overall record of 139-49 in that span.
Tucked away were a couple of league championships, deep runs in the state playoffs and the opportunity to capture even more league titles until the very last week of the regular season.
But the past two seasons haven’t been nearly as successful as AHS had a combined 7-14 conference record and an overall mark of 12-31.
First-year Blue Comets coach Kelly Smith is out to restore the success the Blue Comets have become well accustomed to.
“They have the potential,” Smith said prior to the opening match of the season, a tough three-set loss to Wheatmore last week. “They didn’t have the season they wanted last year, but you wouldn’t know that by how they are doing now. They are all working.”
Smith, an outstanding athlete at Eastern Randolph High School, where she later coached basketball and volleyball, spent time at North Asheboro Middle School before accepting the AHS varsity position.
“Someone reached out to me and I told them you don't have to ask me twice,” she said of moving into the AHS job. “The renovations really helped because they were practicing at NAMS. I saw how much talent they had and I was excited to take the position.
“We have hit the ground running and we have not turned back. We are working hard and I really think you’ll see that on the court.”
In the opener against Wheatmore and the next night against Randleman, the Blue Comets fought to the end, but fell twice.
The Blue Comets feature five seniors, including libero Piper Davidson, a four-year performer who moved from an outside hitting role to the libero spot for her final season.
“The last couple of years have been really tough,” Davidson said. “It’s been hard to adjust to everything. This year, there's a renewed confidence. It’s like a whole new energy that everyone feels. It’s just a new vibe. She’s changing everything in a good way.”
The Blue Comets had a good core of returning players with four more seniors leading that group. Sion Murrain, Ellen Long, Abby Becker and Madison Allen are also seniors.
“They are all leaders in their own way,” Smith said. “We have a lot of youth on our team. Not a lot of juniors and there are sophomores and freshmen. The seniors take a huge role in guiding them to what our expectations are.”
Davidson loves that challenge.
“It's been really good,” she said. “Everyone is taking their role as a senior and making an effort to be a leader. We all work well together.”
Other players the Blue Comets are looking to shine are Lia George, Anna Grace LeRoy, Eva Vuncannon and Emma Forester.
Getting back to where the Blue Comets were may take some time, but there is a definite plan.
“Growth and development is the priority,” Smith said. “We want to build a program that will sustain itself. Growth. One degree better every day. Growing every day. Perseverance.Those are the things I want to see from them. Those are the things that will take us far into the postseason. We’re excited to keep on that track.”
If excitement and enthusiasm lead to success, the Blue Comets should have plenty.