Cameron Capozzi can’t remember a time on a volleyball court when Kendall Hall wasn’t also there. And Reagan Waddell. And Lauren Ketwitz.
Polk County Middle School – always there. Club seasons with Xcel Volleyball – there. Three years at Polk County High School – there, there and there.
Along the way, they nicknamed themselves The Fab Four, a nod to the lofty expectations for a group that has been high achievers at every level. Undefeated conference champions at Polk Middle. Third place nationallly at Xcel. Two conference titles in three seasons in high school.
All of which adds just a bit of extra meaning to this year’s state 2A playoffs, which begin Wednesday. Prior to what would have been the Fab Four’s junior season, Capozzi decided to graduate a year early, shuffling her into the role of senior and moving her a year ahead of her three Fab-mates.
Thus this year’s postseason will be the final journey for the Fab Four, the end of a five-year ride that none are likely to forget any time soon.
“It’s going to be hard leaving those three,” Capozzi said. “They’ve been with me in the hardest part of my life. We’ve been together so much. I look at those three like my sisters when we’re playing together.”
“On the court, we make each other excited,” Hall said. “No one can make me excited besides these three. All of us have always been on the same team together, sometimes year-round.”
Every journey has its beginning and end, and Polk County head coach Molly Hill will be in the unique position, once the final whistle sounds in this postseason, of seeing both for the foursome.
“My mom (Shawn Corhn) coached them in their very first year of playing volleyball (at Xcel),” Hill said. “So it’s a small world. I remember them just standing out. It’s been cool watching them and being with them as they’ve grown.
“Next Senior Night will really hit me hard, because this one definitely hit me after the game. It made me think about those four and how they’ve been with me here since the very beginning. Cameron will be missed, that’s for sure. It will definitely be different.”
Throughout this season, Capozzi has been trying to savor each game, each moment spent with her longtime teammates as well as with fellow senior Addie Lynch, one of her closest friends off the court.
“It’s made me appreciate every single moment,” Capozzi said. “Not only the matches, but also practices. It’s the last year I’m going to be on the court, so I’m trying not to take anything for granted. Not that I did before, but it has made me savor every moment.”
There have been plenty of moments to remember, including that magical eighth grade year when the Fab Four helped put together the first undefeated season in Polk Middle’s athletic history. The team didn’t lose a set all season, didn’t even come close to losing a set, and knocked off a Rugby team coached by Corhn in the Blue Ridge Middle School Conference championship match.
That success, though, led to lofty expectations for the group from its first day on Polk County High’s campus.
“When that undefeated team came up, everyone treated the four freshmen on the team as being the next big thing to hit Polk County,” Capozzi said. “I feel like we’ve fulfilled that somewhat.”
“There was so much pressure and expectations for us,” said Ketwitz. “We’ve worked hard to meet those expectations. We knew the goals we had to meet.”
The Wolverines have gone 56-20 the past three seasons, with 15 of those losses to West Henderson, Brevard and Hendersonville. Polk County reached the fourth round of the state 2A playoffs last season before falling to Maiden.
“They’ve all played since they were freshmen, and they’ve played positions where there’s very high stress,” Hill said. “The pressure they’ve had on them has been big, but they’ve definitely handled it well.”
Now, the sun setting on five years of on-court life together, they’re handling a different type of emotion.
“We’re naturally disappointed and sad she’s leaving because we’re so close-knit,” Waddell said. “But we’re happy for her. We did tell her, ‘Go on, graduate, we get an extra year together.’ But that was in good spirit. We’re going to miss her.”
“Every game now might be my last game,” Capozzi said. “I’m going to swing as hard as I can and not be afraid and just enjoy it.”
And enjoy the company of her Fab Four teammates for one final time.