Entering 2020, no volleyball player for the University Christian High School Barracudas had ever been named to the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association all-state team.
Then Maddie Smith came along.
Following a standout freshman season for the Barracudas, Smith was recently one of a dozen players to land on the NCISAA 2A all-state squad. Already standing in at 6-feet as a 14-year-old, the outside hitter was also an All-Foothills Athletic Conference selection after helping University Christian finish 8-3 overall and 5-1 in conference play this fall.
Come playoff time, the Barracudas advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to eventual state champion Caldwell Academy. Based in Greensboro, Caldwell Academy is home to five of the 12 players on the NCISAA 2A all-state team and was 20-0 in 2020, winning 60 of 62 sets and finishing as the state’s top-ranked 2A program.
A Hickory native who was a team captain in her first year at the high school level under first-year head coach Tiffany Brooks, Smith finished first for the Barracudas in kills (182), service aces (61) and hitting percentage (.383). Additionally, she was second in blocks (13) and tied for third in digs (64).
Smith also plays club ball in Charlotte for Carolina Union Volleyball Club’s 16 Premier Team, despite being only 14. She was also named to the 2020 American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Phenom Watch List as one of the nation’s top underclassmen.
As if all of those accolades weren’t enough, Smith is also a member of the USA Volleyball A1 National Training Team for 2020.
She's already building quite a resume, and with three high school seasons remaining, the sky could be the limit for this young student-athlete.
Josh McKinney is the sports editor for the Hickory Daily Record.