MOREHEAD CITY — If the Patriots had any hope of winning a league volleyball championship this season, they had to beat Jacksonville last Thursday.
And that seemed questionable after getting swept by the Cardinals in their previous matchup.
Abby Scudder made sure that didn’t happen again, posting a whopping 21 kills in just three sets as West Carteret defeated its rival by sweep.
“Before the game, I was talking to the other seniors about how this was the last time we were playing Jacksonville and we had to make it count,” Scudder said. “Winning the last game versus Jacksonville in my senior year, that’s a great win.”
West won 25-23, 25-21, 25-21 after losing 25-21, 25-15, 25-18 on Sept. 17 to the Cardinals. Scudder had 12 kills in that contest.
The teams also met on Sept. 11 in a nonconference match that will act as a tiebreaker for playoff seeding purposes if they tie in the league standings. Both clubs are 5-1 in the 3A Coastal Conference. Jacksonville won that match in five, 25-23, 14-25, 25-22, 26-28, 15-6. Scudder had 12 kills in that matchup.
“That was a very intense match the first time,” Scudder said. “I’m still so upset we didn’t win that one. I’m not sure what happened the second time. We haven’t traveled much so maybe it hurt us playing on the road. We weren’t ready. Our minds weren’t on it and we just crumbled.”
The Patriots have played just four of their 14 matches this season on the road.
Scudder reported she was confident the third match wouldn’t go the same as the first two based on her squad’s preparation.
“Our practice that Wednesday night was the best practice of the season,” she said. “It was super beneficial. When I woke up Thursday morning, I knew we had a chance and that we were ready to play. Then our warmup was probably our strongest warmup yet. We were all very energized and you could tell we all really wanted to win.”
The Morehead City squad jumped out to a big lead in the first set and carried the momentum over to the next two.
“That lead got everybody excited,” Scudder said. “I wasn’t surprised it went three. After that first game, I figured it was going three. We were ready.”
West wasn’t looking for payback just for this season, but for last year as well. The Cardinals brought an end to the Patriots’ four-year run as conference champions with a 25-18, 25-17, 25-15 win in their lone matchup. Jacksonville finished 5-0 in the Coastal while West ended up 4-1 in a schedule that was cut in half by Hurricane Florence.
“It was upsetting, because we didn’t get our full season,” Scudder said. “I love playing volleyball and want to play as much as I can so it was tough. I would have been very upset if it was my senior year.”
The Cardinals didn’t just break West’s four-year streak of league titles, but also snapped a 33-game conference winning streak. The Patriots went 8-5 and fell in the first round of the 3A playoffs, a differed finish from Scudder’s first two years on the varsity.
Those squads combined to go 45-5 with trips to the third and fourth rounds of the postseason before losing to Chapel Hill each season. The Tigers went on to the state final each time and earned runner-up status both years.
Scudder has proven to be one of the best volleyball players in the county since she stepped on the court as a freshman. She had 22 kills, six aces and 17 digs in limited duty that season and followed with 74 kills, 18 aces, 32 digs and 52 blocks as sophomore. Last year, she had 111 kills, 24 aces and 60 digs and this year has shined with 214 kills, 24 aces and 74 digs.
Someone with that résumé could easily get a scholarship, but Scudder, who has a 4.25 GPA and ranks in the top 10 percent of her class, is putting her education before her volleyball career. She has applied to UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington and East Carolina. She plans on majoring in chemistry or biology with hopes of attending medical school.
Scudder figured at least one person in her family shouldn’t be a lawyer.
“Both my parents are lawyers, so I didn’t want to go that route,” she said. “And my brother is currently on the path to becoming a lawyer, so I’m like, nope, not doing that.”
She initially thought of becoming an orthopedic surgeon but a cancer scare last summer with melanoma has her thinking of switching to dermatology.
“I found it on the back of my arm and I had to get it cut out immediately,” she said. “There was a good four-inch cut. I had clean margins, so it was good. I just go every three months to get checkups. I’m leaning toward becoming a dermatologist because of that.”
Here are a few of Scudders’ favorite things, as well as her ideal groups with which to eat dinner and survive a zombie apocalypse and the five items she would take with her on a deserted island:
Favorite Movie: “Captain Phillips.”
Favorite TV Show: “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Favorite Cartoon: “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
Favorite Band/Artist: Luke Combs.
Favorite Song: “Hurricane” by Luke Combs.
Favorite Book: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Favorite Team: Florida Gators.
Favorite Athlete: Stanford voleyball’s Kathryn Plummer.
Favorite Vacation: Dude ranch in Montana.
Favorite Hobby: Playing volleyball.
Favorite Subject: Science.
Favorite Quote: “Do what you can with all you have, wherever you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt.
Favorite Food: Steak.
Favorite Drink: Dr. Pepper.
Favorite Restaurant: Long Horn Steakhouse.
Favorite Season: Fall.
Favorite Sports Memory: Going to the fourth round of the playoffs in my freshman year.
Favorite Teacher: Ms. Debbie Butler.
Favorite Sport: Volleyball.
Favorite Pre-Game/Post-Game Ritual: Going to eat with the teammates/giving my grandparents a hug.
Favorite Website/App: Snapchat.
Favorite Follow on Twitter/Instagram: NCAA Volleyball.
Ideal Dinner Guest List: Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Emilia Clarke and Sophie Turner.
Ideal Group To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse: Allison Johnson, Makayla Tinney, Meade Varner, Hayden Winchell, Ryan Rouse and coach Michael Turner.
Items For A Deserted Island: Rain barrel, lighter, knife, sunscreen and my boat.