By Madison Shelton. October 4, 2017. BOONE, NC — It may not have been as easy as it looked, but Watauga’s varsity volleyball team swept Mt. Tabor Wednesday night in a non-conference “make up” match at Lentz Eggers Gym, 25-17, 25-18, 25-15. Mt. Tabor was sporting a 12-6 overall record and an undefeated record in the Piedmont Triad 3A Conference, but the Pioneers were wired and ready for what was ahead.
Sophomore outside hitters, Brooke Byrd and Rebekah Farthing, once again powered the Pioneer offense ith 12 and 13 kills, respectively. Senior middle hitter Emma Clarke was also a force, offensively and defensively, contributing 9 kills and 5 blocks. Junior setter Grace Hayes directed the offensive orchestra with 36 assists.
The Pioneers dominated the first set with precise ball control and strong defense. It was a confident Watauga side that took the court, exhibiting strength and power.
The second set was a different story, evolving as a battle of near equals. Where Watauga slammed the ball across the net in attack, Mt. Tabor’s Spartans had a defensive answer.
Our girls are always excited to play Mt. Tabor. They are good competition and very well coached.
Still in mid-season, play wasn’t perfect by either side. Hitting errors, lapses in communication and service errors also helped keep the score close. The lead changed multiple times. The Pioneers finally rallied together to capture the set, 25-18.
“It came down to who wanted it more,” Farthing observed to Blowing Rock News afterwards about the second set play. “Our second sets are often rocky. I think sometimes we can get comfortable and complacent, but once we got past that rocky patch we pushed hard and pursued well.”
The momentum during the third set was all Watauga. That Watauga played nearly error-free was reflected in the final score for the decisive third set, 25-15.
“Our girls are always excited to play Mt. Tabor,” Pioneer head coach Kris Hagaman said. “The Spartans are really good competition and well coached.”
It came down to who wanted it more.
Farthing and Byrd both noted to Blowing Rock News afterwards that the team’s focus for the past week has been on defensive skills and that was reflected in the final statistics. Byrd led the team with 19 digs, followed by sophomore defensive specialist Chloe Baldwin’s 14 and Grace Hayes’ 8 digs. While Clarke’s 5 blocks was a team high, middle blockers Tegan Allen and Taylor Walker each recorded 4 blocks.
Watauga is now 17-2 overall and 11-0 in conference. Coach Hagaman told reporters afterwards that as non-conference matches go, the opportunity to play Mt. Tabor was an important test because it is the kind of competition the Pioneers are likely to see in the state playoffs.
Three Northwestern Conference matches are all that remain before Watauga looks to the playoffs. On Thursday (Oct. 5), the Pioneers travel to McDowell HS in Marion, NC. The junior varsity plays a best two-out-of-three match beginning at 5:00 pm, followed by the varsity. The Titans have struggled in 2017, posting a 5-12 record overall and a 2-9 record in conference play.
On Oct. 10, Watauga returns to Lentz-Eggers Gym for Senior Night against Morganton’s Freedom HS. Through Wednesday night’s matches, the Patriots are 3-7 in conference play and 8-9 overall, good enough for 5th in the 8-team Northwestern 3A Conference.
The Pioneers close out the regular season on Thursday, Oct. 12, at West Caldwell in Lenoir. The Warriors are winless so far in their 2017 campaign, 0-17 overall and 0-11 in Northwestern Conference play.
Watauga Player Stats
- Rebekah Farthing — 13 kills, 2 aces, 7 digs
- Brooke Byrd — 12 kills, 19 digs, 3 blocks
- Emma Clarke — 9 kills, 5 blocks
- Tegan Allan — 3 kills, 4 blocks
- Taylor Walker — 1 kill, 4 blocks
- Grace Hayes — 1 kill, 8 digs, 2 blocks, 36 assists
- Chloe Baldwin — 2 aces, 14 digs
- Jasmine VanDyke — 6 aces, 1 dig
SLIDESHOW By David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
Pioneer Junior Varsity Defeats Mt. Tabor In Split, 2-1
By David Rogers. October 4, 2017. BOONE, NC — After a first set in which host Watauga dominated Mt. Tabor, 25-12, in the second set it was almost as if the two sides were taking lessons from each other. Mt. Tabor won the second set, 25-12, then (fittingly), the Spartans took Watauga to overtime in the third set before falling to the Pioneers, 18-16.
Watuaga JV Player Stats
- Hannah Sharpe 5 kills, 2 blocks
- Alessandra Densham 4 kills, 1 assist, 3 blocks
- Katie Willingham 7 kills, 1 block, 4 digs
- Ava Williamson 15 assists, 1 kill, 2 aces, 5 digs
- Abby Utter 6 digs, 1 kill
- Katie Thompson 3 kills, 2 aces, 5 digs
- Linley Garwood 6 digs
- Kari Warner 7 digs, 3 aces
- Maison Showalter 1 ace
- Gracie Proffit 2 kills, 1 dig