CORNELIUS – Hough High’s volleyball program made great strides in its first four seasons. Julia Brown, a senior outside hitter, was a huge reason why.
Brown’s dominance at the net helped the Huskies begin fast her freshman season and methodically improve into a state championship contender. She is The Herald Weekly Volleyball Player of the Year.
Brown had 389 kills, volleyball lingo for a smash at the net that isn’t returned. It results in a point. Hough was by no means a one-trick pony, but when they really needed a key point, the ball usually was headed in Brown’s direction. She usually produced a powerful slam that ricocheted off an opponent’s arm, the floor or the back of a gym wall.
Brown also showed prowess away from the net by registering 187 digs, the volleyball term for preventing the ball from hitting the court after the opposing team has either spiked or served it. She added 40 aces.
Hough rolled through the regular season with only one loss, a 3-2 setback against Winston-Salem Mount Tabor (also a state title contender). Brown had a season-high 25 kills in that match. Her kill totals improved as the season progressed. Brown was particularly effective with 20 kills on consecutive nights against North Mecklenburg and Hopewell in MECKA 4A conference matches.
She pounded out another 20 kills as Hough avenged its loss to Mount Tabor by winning in the state semifinal. It was the Huskies’ fourth straight playoff victory, after defeating McDowell, Ardrey Kell and Charlotte Catholic. The Huskies, however, fell short of the ultimate prize when they lost to Raleigh Wakefield 3-1 in the N.C. 4A championship match at N.C. State.
Ironically, it was played on what will soon be Brown’s home court. She’s a three-sport star at Hough and signed with N.C. State’s volleyball program. Brown, 6-foot-1, completed her second season as an outside hitter for the Huskies, after beginning her prep career as a middle hitter.
She began playing club volleyball after her sophomore season and attended several camps. That mix turned her into one of the state’s top college recruits and gave Hough the dominant player it needed to be a contender. Brown also is a standout on the school basketball and lacrosse teams.
Hough’s seniors went from being freshmen in the Huskies’ debut season to reaching the final eight in the state playoffs as sophomores, final four as juniors and the championship match as seniors.
Herald Weekly 2013 Volleyball Coach of the Year
Sandi Skidmore built a powerful team this season that nearly won a state championship. Her Hough High squad fell short in the N.C. 4A final, but had a fabulous season otherwise. She is The Herald Weekly Volleyball Coach of the Year. Skidmore’s squad went 32-2, won the MECKA 4A conference with a 14-0 record and swept playoff victories (by 3-0 scores) against McDowell, Ardrey Kell and Charlotte Catholic. In the state semifinals, Hough avenged its lone regular-season loss with a home win against Mount Tabor. Skidmore wins the award for the second consecutive year. Of Hough’s 32 victories this season, 27 were by 3-0 scores.