By David Rogers. October 3, 2017. BOONE, NC — It wasn’t the prettiest three-set sweep of a volleyball opponent, but Watauga’s varsity managed to survive a near collapse in the second set to defeat St. Stephens, 25-21, 26-24, 25-22, in Lentz-Eggers Gym.
COVER IMAGE: Senior Grace Hagaman digs one out for Watauga vs. St. Stephens. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
Last month on their home court in Hickory, St. Stephens pushed Watauga to five sets before the Indians absorbed the loss. This time, Watauga was better prepared to attack from all angles, with scoring, assist and defensive contributions from a variety of Pioneer athletes.
For the match, sophomore outside hitters Brooke Byrd and Rebekah Farthing powered the offense with 17 and 12 kills, respectively, but with strong attack contributions from seniors Emma Clarke (6 kills) and Taylor Walker (5 kills). Libero Grace Hayes recorded 30 assists in setting up the outside and middle hitters.
After holding off a late Indian surge in the first set, Watauga started slow in the second. At one point the Pioneers were down by as much as 12-5 to St. Stephens before head coach Kris Hagaman and co-captains Byrd, Farthing and senior Grace Hagaman got things settled down during a timeout and the Pioneers began to slowly cut into the lead, finally tying the second set at 19-19. St. Stephens didn’t fold up their tee-pees willingly, though, tying the set at 24-24 before succumbing to the Pioneers, 26-24.
“We started slow in that second set,” Farthing explained to Blowing Rock News afterwards. “We just had to get our energy back.”
Although the third set score appeared close at 25-22, the momentum throughout favored Watauga and the outcome was rarely in doubt.
- Rebekah Farthing — 12 kills, 12 digs, 2 serving aces, 1 block, 2 assists
- Brooke Byrd — 17 kills, 13 digs, 2 aces, 4 blocks, 1 assist
- Emma Clarke — 6 kills, 10 blocks
- Taylor Walker — 5 kills, 4 digs, 5 blocks
- Tegan Allan — 1 kill, 2 digs, 4 blocks
- Grace Hayes — 1 kill, 19 digs, 5 blocks, 30 assists
- Grace Hagaman — 17 digs, 2 assists
- Chloe Baldwin — 1 ace, 9 digs
Now 16-2 overall and 11-0 in Northwestern Conference play, Watauga will play a “make-up” non-conference match vs. Mt. Tabor on Wednesday, with the junior varsity game beginning at 5:30 pm at Lentz-Eggers Gym. With the loss, St. Stephens is now 7-4 in Northwestern Conference play, 13-7 overall.
Mt. Tabor promises to be a tough matchup for the Pioneers, sporting an overall record of 12-6 and 9-0 in the strong Piedmont Triad 3A Conference.
NORTHWESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS
- Watauga (11-0 NWC, 16-2 overall)
- Alexander Central (9-2, 14-5)
- Hickory (8-3, 10-9)
- St. Stephens (7-4, 13-7)
- Freedom (3-7, 8-9)
- South Caldwell (3-7, 7-11)
- McDowell (2-9, 5-12)
- West Caldwell (0-11, 0-17)
In the junior varsity curtain raiser, St. Stephens prevailed, 2-0 (25-17, 25-9)
Watauga’s individual statistics for the JV match:
- Hannah Sharpe — 1 kill, 4 blocks
- Ava Williamson — 2 kills, 3 assists, 8 digs
- Katie Willingham — 2 kills, 2 blocks, 6 digs
- Linley Garwood — 1 ace, 4 digs
- Kari Warner — 6 digs