Watauga shines over Sun Valley, 3-0; advances to 3rd round

Watauga shines over Sun Valley, 3-0; advances to 3rd round
Tegan Allan (20) smashes a kill shot at point blank range against Sun Valley.

By David Rogers. October 25, 2018. BOONE, NC — It wasn’t easy, but Watauga advanced to the third round of the North Carolina state volleyball tournament Thursday evening at Lentz Eggers Gymnasium, 25-17, 25-20, 25-23.

COVER IMAGE: Jasmine VanDyke serves against Sun Valley in the first set of the Round 2 match in the state championship tournament. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.

Although technically a sweep, the Pioneers expected a tough contest from the Spartans and the tall, athletic team from Monroe did not disappoint the High Country’s favorite daughters.

Under the watchful eye of line judge Mike Steele of Blowing Rock, Rebekah Farthing serves against Sun Valley in the second round of the state playoffs

The Spartans kept pace with the Pioneers for much of the first set, largely because of Watauga service errors. The adrenaline-juiced Pioneers repeatedly served long, giving away points to their visitors from Monroe.

When the score was knotted at 8-8, Watauga began to settle into its more characteristic, ball control rhythm. From that point forward, the match was never seriously in doubt as to who was the better team, although Sun Valley kept things interesting in all three sets.

Junior outside hitter Brooke Byrd tallied 18 kills for the Pioneers, including a respectable .459 hitting percentage. Fellow outside hitter Rebekah Farthing added 11 kills while middle hitter Tegan Allan contributed six.

Junior designated setter Chloe Baldwin recorded 4 service aces to help Watauga establish some pull-away scoring runs, while Farthing, Macie Keller and Jasmine VanDyke added one service ace apiece.

Hair flying, Watauga’s Brooke Byrd (2) spikes the ball across the net on one of her kill attempts.

Baldwin and Farthing were team-high leaders in digs, with 18 and 12, respectively. Senior Grace Hayes was credited with 39 assists. Byrd, Farthing and Baldwin kept the ball in play by receiving serve 20, 21, and 14 times, respectively.

With its Charlotte-area geographic focus and more opportunities to play against high-level competition, in 2018 the Southern Carolina Conference in which Sun Valley competes produced two of the top ten seeds in the western bracket of the 3A state championship tournament, Marvin Ridge (#1) and Charlotte Catholic (#10). Both advanced on Thursday to the third round.

Elsewhere, Watauga’s Northwestern Conference rival Hickory (seeded 11th) surprised 6th-seeded Cox Mill, 3-1.

The third round of the state playoffs is scheduled for Saturday. As the #4 seed, Watauga will host #5 McMichael of Mayoden, NC at 4:00 pm in Lentz-Eggers Gym. McMichael (27-1 overall and 14-0 in 3A Mid State Conference play) is led by 6-0 sophomore outside hitter Cassidy Tanton (316 kills in 71 sets) and senior libero Katie Kilts (180 digs). Sophomore setter Danni Lester leads The Phoenix with 485 assists on the season, in 72 sets played.

SLIDESHOW By David Rogers for Blowing Rock News

About The Author

As Editor and Publisher of Blowing Rock News, David Rogers has chosen a second professional career instead of retirement. For more than 35 years, he served in the financial services industry, principally in institutional equity research. He grew up in the oilfields north of Bakersfield, California and was a high school English major and honors student. From an economically disadvantaged family background, he worked his way through college (on grounds crew and in dining hall, as well as advertising sales for college newspapers), attending Johnston College at the University of Redlands, Claremont McKenna College, and California State University, Bakersfield. Other jobs to pay for college included a Teamsters Union job in South Central Los Angeles, a roustabout in the central California oilfields, and moving sprinkler pipe and hoeing weeds in the cotton fields west of Bakersfield. Rogers' financial services industry career took him from Bakersfield to La Jolla and San Diego, then to Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Newport Beach and Charlotte before arriving in the High Country in 2000 to take a volunteer position coaching the rugby team at Appalachian State University and write independent stock market research. He spent three years as a senior financial writer for a global financial PR firm with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Shanghai, Beijing, Tel Aviv, and Frankfort (Germany). Rogers is the author of "The 90% Solution: Higher Returns, Less Risk" (2006, John Wiley & Co., New York). He is married to wife Kim (Jenkins Realtors), and shares in the joy provided by her three grown children and five grandchildren.

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