It's come down to a three-game season.
The Watauga High volleyball team, searching for its first state title in school history, is just three wins away from that ultimate goal. WHS (21-7), riding a seven-game winning streak, defeated Lake Norman in a three-game sweep: 25-13, 25-22, 25-21 in the Class 4A sectional semifinals at Lentz-Eggers Gym. The win also avenged a sectional-championship game loss
to the Wildcats (22-6 and the No.2 seed from the I-Meck Conference) last season.
"I'm excited, and the girls are excited," said WHS coach Kris Hagaman. "We really came out and play hard and won this match. We're playing with a lot of confidence right now, and playing at home is an extra bonus."
And the Pioneers will host the sectional finals Saturday against Hough, a team they defeated in the sectional semifinals last fall in three games. The Huskies (25-3 and the No.1 seed from the I-Meck Conference) defeated McDowell 3-1 in Marion Thursday night. The Pioneers will also be making their ninth consecutive trip to the sectional finals since 2003.
And remember, the Huskies defeated WHS in a tri-match down in Charlotte back on October 8. As a matter of fact, the Pioneers lost both games in that tri-match and found themselves searching for answers. But since those setback, the Pioneers look like a completely different team.
"When we play well, we're very hard to beat," Hagaman said. "And the girls are really playing well right now. We've had our struggles this year, but we seem to be peaking at the right time."
Kristen Carter led the way with 39 assists. Hannah Stewart had 13 kills, Colby Combs had nine kills and three blocks. Anna Church had seven kills and seven digs; Channing Hagaman had seven kills, nine digs and three blocks; Rebecca Hayes had five assists and six blocks; Skylar Hicks had 16 digs.
A starting time for Saturday's sectional championship game has yet to be announced.
NOTES: The Pioneers have reached the state championship game since 1998, when they lost to Durham-Riverside in three games.....In all, WHS has made two trips to the staTe finals in school history. The other trip came in 1995. WHS lost to undefeated Raleigh-Millbrook in five games. Brenda and Lindsey Taylor were playing for the Pioneers that season. They were both juniors......St. Stephens (20-4) reached the sectional finals in Class 3A Thursday night. The Indians defeated West Henderson in three games. They will play Franklin in the sectional finals at home on Saturday.....If the Pioneers defeat Hough on Saturday, they will play either Providence (25-2, the No.1 seed from the Southwestern 4A Conference) or Northwest Guilford (24-8, the No.1 seed from the Metro 4A Conference) in the regional title game next Tuesday, November 1.
WHS DEFEATS LAKE NORMAN 3-0: 25-13, 25-22, 25-21
KRISTEN CARTER 39 ASSISTS
HANNAH STEWART 13 KILLS
COLBY COMBS 9 KILLS, 3 BLOCKS
ANNA CHURCH 7 KILLS, 7 DIGS
CHANNING HAGAMAN 7 KILLS, 9 DIGS, 3 BLOCKS
REBECCA HAYES 5 KILLS, 6 BLOCKS
SKYLAR HICKS 16 DIGS
INDIANS BEST WHS JV's
The Watauga High JV football team finished the season on a sour note Thursday night.
St. Stephens defeated WHS 19-15 at Jack Groce Stadium, handed the Pioneers (2-8) their seventh-consecutive loss. Zeb Speir and T.J. Poulos both scored touchdows for the Pioneers. Andy Gilliam caught a two-point conversion pass from Speir, Stephen Shirley kicked an extra point.