Lake Norman & Mooresville

Talented sisters play integral role for Titans

Adrian Eppley has had a great time playing with her younger sister, Rachel, on the Hopewell volleyball team.

"It's been fun because I've gotten the chance to play with my best friend," the senior captain said. "Volleyball has brought us together a lot more, it gives us a lot to talk about. We've just made a closer bond."

That bond has helped the Titans on the court, as the sisters have led the team to a 26-3 record (as of Oct. 22) and a regular season I-Meck championship.

"They are in sync with each other," said Hopewell coach Rhonda Auman. "They know where each other is and know each other's weaknesses and strengths."

Adrian, who has played on the Titans' varsity team her entire high school career, led the team in assists with 682 and was a consistent player, having only 9 attacking errors heading into the playoffs.

"Her game has just gone up to another level every year," said Auman. "She's phenomenal."

The setter was also second in aces behind Rachel, who also led the team in digs with 485. The younger Eppley was also second in kills with 212 behind senior Hannah Early.

Auman, who came to Hopewell the same year Adrian was a freshman, said her has been a key part of her team since she switched to her current position after playing middle hitter for her freshman year.

"It was the perfect move for her because she's so smart," said Auman.

Rachel agreed with her coach, adding that her sister is a reliable all-around good player.

"She's never off," the sophomore said. "She's just really consistent."

Rachel, an outside hitter, joined the Titans' varsity team last year, when she made an immediate impact on the team.

"I don't know if you could count her as a freshman because she was so mature and such a phenomenal hitter," said Auman. "She's the all-around player - defense, serving, hitting - she's just a leader on the floor. You know when you need a hit, she's the one yelling and screaming for it."

Auman said Rachel is much improved defensively after playing libero on her summer team.

Adrian described her sister as powerful and aggressive.

"She's my go-to hitter," said Adrian. "If we're down, I'm going to her because I trust her the most."

That trust derives from how close the sisters, 17 and 15, are.

On her senior night, Adrian directed a tear-jerking part of the speech she wrote to her sister, telling her how much it had meant for her to play alongside her.

The feeling is shared by Rachel.

"It's been the highlight of my high school career so far," she said.

But just because the sisters are close doesn't mean that they don't get in arguments, but Auman said they keep it at a minimum.

"I think they save that for home - they never show it on the floor," she said.

But the sisters admit that sometimes they can get on each other's bad sides during games, especially if they get a bad pass from each other.

"It's easier for her to take out her frustration on me than anyone else," said Adrian. "I've learned to handle it better."

As the team got their playoff run Saturday against Porter Ridge, Rachel is starting to ponder about what next year will be like without Adrian as a teammate.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," said Rachel. "It's going to be really strange. It'll be horrible, I'll definitely not like it as much."