Hopewell's volleyball team is made up of a talented group of experienced players.
Senior Caroline Hughes and junior Kaila Angello are two of them.
Titans' coach Rhonda Auman said Hughes and Angello are key to her team (19-2, 10-1 in the I-Meck as of Oct. 1), even if they don't always get the recognition they deserve.
"You always think of Hannah (Early) and Rachel Eppley because they're our biggest hitters and lead most statistics, but Caroline and Kaila do the solid things that help our team win."
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Hughes is one of the team's outside hitters while Angello splits time with Early at the middle hitter position.
Angello is second in blocks for the Titans, while Hughes is third in kills and digs. The duo had a big match against powerhouse Mount Tabor on Sept. 18, as they both had season-high kills and blocks.
Auman said having depth on her squad has come up big and might have been the difference between losing and winning a set.
The coach explained that she's been impressed with how Angello and Hughes have played this season.
Auman said that Hughes' biggest contribution is her consistency.
"Caroline always get that big hit when you need it," said Auman. "That's what you always get from her."
Meanwhile, Angello gives the Titans a big boost when she comes off the bench.
"When she comes in there's no let-down," said Auman. "She brings in that lift of energy - that spark - when she comes on the floor."
The duo said they've had fun this season.
"We're doing so good and I'm really proud of everybody," said Angello.
Hughes said Hopewell is doing better than last year, when the team went 23-6 (10-2 in the I-Meck) and reached the 4A West semifinals of the state playoffs. She attributes her team's success to chemistry, as nearly the same team has been playing together for the past three seasons.
Angello agreed, explaining how close her teammates are on and off the court.
"We're almost a family," said Angello. "Even if we're not all together as a team, we still talk all the time. We're not one of those teams where you don't say, 'Hi,' in the hallway at school."
Hopewell lost its first game of the season against Newton-Conover. Auman said the team didn't play well against a good Red Devils squad.
Last week, the team dropped its first conference match to Lake Norman in straight sets.
Although Auman admits she doesn't like losing or the way her team performed, she'd rather take a loss now.
"It's better than losing in the tournament or in the playoffs," she admits. "We just have to make sure we learn from that loss."
Angello admits the Titans might have been too confident going into that game.
"It kind of got into our heads, and we didn't play well," she said.
But Hughes wants to put the losses behind her and focus on the rest of the season.
"It can't get us down," she said. "We have to keep going if we want a conference championship."
Hopewell was well on its way to an I-Meck crown prior to the loss to the Wildcats. But the Titans dreams don't stop with a conference title.
"I think we have the confidence to go undefeated the rest of the season," said Hughes. "I want to win states - that'd be a great way to end my last season."