BOONE — Watauga’s volleyball team was not necessarily as sharp as coach Kris Hagaman would have liked, but the Pioneers didn’t have to be against North Stokes.
Watauga claimed a 25-15, 25-8, 25-14 victory over the visiting Vikings at Lentz-Eggers Gym by scoring points in bunches after breaking open close sets early and late in the match.
The Pioneers went to four-year starter Brooke Byrd for offense, and the senior responded with 17 kills.
Rebekah Farthing, another four-year starter, added 10 kills and eight digs defensively.
Another returning starter, sophomore Brelyn Sturgill, handed out 15 assists, while senior Emma Brown added 11. Ava Williamson, a junior, chipped in six assists.
The Pioneers also got contributions from three freshmen, who saw good stretches of playing time. Caroline Farthing, Rebekah Farthing’s younger sister, had two kills and three service aces.
Brooke Scheffler, who was Caroline Farthing’s teammate at Parkway School, had three kills and two blocks. Kenzie Baldwin, a freshman who made the leap to the varsity from Hardin Park School, also saw her share of playing time.
For Caroline, it was a chance to play on the same team with her sister on a Watauga High team. Caroline is the fourth Farthing to play on the varsity level — Meredith, Sydney and Rebecca were the first three.
Caroline, playing on a varsity team at Watauga, said she was nervous even though she has played with her Watauga High teammates in other circumstances.
“It was exciting,” she said. “It was also kind of nerve-wracking for me being a freshman, but the girls helped with that.”
The situation reminded Byrd of the situation she faced in her first year on the varsity.
“It’s like when Rebecca and I came up as freshmen,” Byrd said. “We have Kenzie, Caroline and Brooke.”
It took Watauga, which finished 25-1 in 2018 and reached the Final Eight of the state 3-A playoffs, a while to find its rhythm. The Pioneers led the first set 13-11 before outscoring the Vikings 7-1 to claim a 20-12 lead that was never challenged.
The Pioneers used the momentum to claim an 11-0 lead in the second set. North Stokes (0-2) regrouped to take a 6-2 lead early in the third set and trailed 10-9 before Watauga slowly pulled away to a 24-13 lead late in the match.
“Our energy was down the whole match and that’s something we definitely need to continue to work on,” Byrd said. “I think we got all of the jitters out and started playing more collectively toward the end.”
Watauga hosts traditionally strong North Surry on Aug. 22. The Greyhounds lost 3-0 to West Forsyth on Aug. 20, one day after falling 3-2 to Starmount. Both matches were on road setbacks.
“We’re all excited,” Byrd said. “It’s (my) senior year, so we’re just going to go out and play and give our best effort.”