By David Rogers. October 21, 2017. BOONE, NC — Call her “Kid Vicious.” Watauga middle blocker Emma Clark was “on” Saturday afternoon at Lentz-Eggers Gym and the Pioneers’ setters were quick to find her. Led by Clark’s 14 thundering kills, the Pioneers dominated visiting Parkwood (Monroe, NC) from start to finish, 25-13, 25-10, 25-13 in the first round of the North Carolina 3A state championship tournament.
COVER IMAGE: Sophomore Chloe Baldwin added to her team high totals on the season for service aces in contributing six more against Parkwood. Photographic image by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
Clark added two digs and four blocks to her day’s stat line, but most of the tall senior’s damage was done in the middle, where designated setter Grace Hayes deftly short-set the ball and Clark slammed the ball over the net for a kill.
Pioneer head coach Kris Hagaman was quick to point out afterwards that in the fast-paced Watauga system it is the setters who read the opportunities and their choice as to where to take the attack on any given play. While Watauga’s outside hitter duo of sophomores Rebekah Farthing and Brooke Byrd are more often the focus of attack from the perimeter, against Parkwood they contributed five and nine kills, respectively, and played significant roles on defense. Farthing added two service aces and and six digs, while in addition to her kills, Byrd contributed one ace, five digs, and one block.
With senior libero Grace Hagaman sidelined with an illness and Hayes not at 100% while still recovering from being sick earlier in the week, other Pioneers stepped up and played significant roles in the win, putting exclamation points to Coach Hagaman’s “whole team” philosophy. Junior designated setter Jasmine VanDyke registered 13 digs in the three sets, while sophomore designated setter Chloe Baldwin ignited Pioneer scoring runs with six service aces and eight digs.
After Saturday’s first round win, Watauga advances to host Tuscola (Waynesville, NC) on Tuesday, with the second round tilt scheduled for 5:30 pm at Lentz-Eggers Gym. The 21st seeded Mountaineers surprised 12th seeded Jay M. Robinson (Concord, NC) on Saturday, winning in four sets 26-24, 25-12, 16-25, 25-13 on the Bulldogs home court. Tuscola is led up front by senior outside hitter Olivia Johnson, who has tallied 186 kills on the season, and junior middle blocker Shelby Glance’s 43 total blocks. Junior setter Livy Rich leads the team in two stat categories, with 29 service aces and 418 assists. Meanwhile, senior libero Hannah Litty has 269 digs and 306 service receptions.
Watauga’s Clark leads the team with 122 total blocks, and is third on the team in kills with 176 on the season, behind Farthing’s 354 and Byrd’s 290. Baldwin has a team high 42 serving aces on the season, while Byrd is team leader in digs (322). Farthing leads the team in serve receiving (490), while Hayes’ 772 assists puts her at the center of things with a whopping 87.4% of the team’s total assists on the season.
After the match, Clark told Blowing Rock News that she hopes to play at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory next year. Of her Saturday performance, she said, “It is all about the setters.”
SLIDESHOW By David Rogers for Blowing Rock News