By David Rogers. August 16, 2017. BOONE, NC — It was unanimous on three fronts. Watauga volleyball swept West Wilkes 28-26, 25-12, 25-12, Wednesday night at Lentz Eggers Gym.
COVER IMAGE: Rebekah Farthing (6) goes for one of her 19 kills. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.
But it wasn’t just the sweep. All of the Pioneer players and coaches agreed that they had a case of first game “jitters” in falling behind the Blackhawks in the opening set. After losing as many as eight seniors on last year’s squad that went to the 4A state semi-finals, Watauga’s varsity is melding together a fairly young roster of four seniors, two juniors, seven sophomores and one freshman.
After falling behind 12-7 in the first set, with Jasmine VanDyke serving the Pioneers went on a run to tie the set at 13-13. West Wilkes hardly folded up their tents, however, in retreat because it would not be until 18-17 that Watauga took its first lead. Then the two non-conference rivals fought to 26-26 before the Pioneers prevailed, 28-26.
“We just got over the early jitters,” sophomore outside hitter and team co-captain Rebekah Farthing explained to Blowing Rock News afterwards. “We might have come into the match a little complacent because of what we achieved last year and this was ‘just’ West Wilkes, but when their junior varsity did so well in sweeping our JVs, we kinda thought, ‘Hey, if their junior varsity is that good, maybe their varsity is better than we were expecting.’ That uncertainty probably added to our first game nervousness after only a week of practice, a lot of new players on the roster, and a last minute lineup change because one of our normal starters, Emma Clark, was unable to play tonight.”
Also asked to explain the slow start in the first set, team co-captain and senior Grace Hagaman said, “Jitters.” Another co-captain, sophomore outside hitter Brooke Byrd replied, “Jitters.”
And head coach Kris Hagaman, now in her 8th year at the helm of Pioneer volleyball, noted, “Jitters.”
Although Farthing (1 service ace, 13 digs, and 19 kills) and Byrd (3 aces, 16 digs and 11 kills) led the Watauga side statistically, both of them as well as Coach Hagaman deflected any individual praise to the team accomplishment.
“Every year we tell our girls that our wins are team wins,” said Hagaman, “because everyone contributes. That’s not just the players on the court, but from top to bottom of the program, including the junior varsity and our coaches. Everyone contributes because everyone pushes each other.”
That thought was reinforced by the coach’s daughter, Grace Hagaman (6 digs), when Blowing Rock News asked about her role as co-captain.
“We expect everyone on the team and in the program to support each other, to push each other,” the senior #29 libero explained. “As captain, my job is to just make sure we are all pulling in the same direction and step in if there are any shortfalls in that enthusiasm for each other, to help re-establish that energy on and off the court.”
West Wilkes’ junior varsity defeated Watauga’s JVs, 11-25, 17-25. “We have all 9th graders,” JV head coach Kacie Lake noted to Blowing Rock News. “As young as our team is and considering that they have only been practicing a week, we really played very well against a good West Wilkes opponent. Our girls all played volleyball in middle school and several are on club travel teams, but they haven’t all played together until arriving at Watauga High School. We played much better in the second set, and the score reflects our improvement as the match progressed.”
The Pioneers return to the Lentz-Eggers court on Thursday, August 17, against North Surry, with the JVs’ first serve at 5:00 pm and the varsity match soon thereafter.
WATAUGA VARSITY SCORING LINE
- #3 Chloe Baldwin — 4 digs
- #6 Rebekah Farthing — 1 ace, 13 digs, 19 kills
- #7 Brooke Byrd — 3 aces, 16 digs, 11 kills
- #9 Carolyn Murray — 1 dig, 2 kills
- #14 Grace Hayes — 4 aces, 3 digs, 1 kill, 37 assists
- #16 Jasmine VanDyke — 1 ace, 13 digs, 1 assist
- #18 Taylor Walker — 1 dig, 6 kills
- #20 Tegan Allan — 1 dig, 1 kill
- #24 Makenzie Robinson — 3 aces, 13 digs
- #29 Grace Hagaman — 6 digs, 1 assist
WATAUGA JUNIOR VARSITY LEAD SCORING
- Ava Williamson — 3 aces, 3 digs, 11 assists
- Katie Thompson — 4 kills, 7 digs
- Abby Utter — 20 digs