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Watauga gains experience, skill in men’s volleyball state tourney

By David Rogers. CHARLOTTE, N.C. — No matter how good the athleticism, game experience and skill development as a team and as individuals are often the difference makers between winning and losing. Still just a second year program, the Watauga High School men’s volleyball battled hard, improved a lot with each match, and gained valuable experience for future matches on May 10-11 in the North Carolina state championship tournament for men’s volleyball. Final place in the tournament standings: No. 14.

BONUS PHOTOS at bottom of article. For best viewing on a desktop or laptop monitor, click on any image for Slide Show mode and page through them.

Hosted by the Carolina Union Volleyball Club, the Public Schools Division featured 16 teams divided into four, 4-team pools. Based on round-robin play against the other three teams in a pool, each team advanced to either a Gold, Silver or Bronze championship round bracket.

In most state tournament matches, Watauga players knew they were the underdogs but they were having a good time — and learning with each set. Photographic image by David Rogers

Watauga head coach Kim Pryor explained after the second match in pool play against the tourney’s No. 1 seed, Marvin Ridge, that because the Pioneers only had one opponent during the regular season (they played Ashe County several times, winning all but one), the state tournament organizers assigned the High Country’s best team as the No. 16 seed.

Pryor knows that getting better requires not just practice but also playing against better competition.

“Ashe County is a very good team and getting better and better, but like us they are inexperienced, too,” explained Pryor. “We haven’t had much success in getting other schools in our region to organize men’s volleyball teams and it has also been a challenge to get the better teams off the mountain to fit us into their league schedules. I am not worried about the early round seeding because if you are going to win a tournament you are ultimately going to have to play all of the best teams.”

Watauga’s Pool 1 included Marvin Ridge, Hough and TMSA (The Math and Science Academy), all Charlotte area schools that have for the most part been playing for several years and play against each other regularly.

The Pioneers went 0-3 in pool play so were relegated to the Bronze Division for the championship rounds, but it is worth noting they got better against each opponent. In meeting Hough, they lost 10-25, 25-20. Versus the Mavericks of Marvin Ridge, they also doubled their second round score, losing 8-25, 15-25. The two pool matches against TMSA were both very tight, losing 21-25 and 23-25.

In the opening match of the Bronze playoff bracket, Watauga battled to a 25-20, 16-25, 15-10 win over Millbrook, from the Raleigh area. In the Bronze final, a Pioneer rally fell short in the first set, losing to Christ the King, a private Catholic high school school in Huntersville, by a score of 20-25. Watauga bounced back in the second set, winning it decisively, 25-11, but fell short in the decisive third set.

The final standings in the Public School Division:

  • 1 – Marvin Ridge (Matches: 6-0; Sets: 12-0)
  • 2 – Reagan (5-1; 10-2)
  • T3 – Butler (3-2; 6-4)
  • T3 – Weddington (3-2; 6-4)
  • T5 – Hough (2-2; 4-4)
  • T5 – North Guilford (3-1; 6-4)
  • T5 – Union Academy (2-2; 4-4)
  • T5 – West Forsyth (3-1; 6-2)
  • 9 – TMSA (3-2; 6-5)
  • 10 – Chapel Hill (2-3; 5-8)
  • T11 – Riverside (1-3; 3-7)
  • T11 – T C Roberson (1-3; 3-7)
  • 13 – Christ the King (2-3; 5-7)
  • 14 – Watauga (1-4; 3-9)
  • 15 – Millbrook (0-4; 3-8)
  • 16 – North Henderson (0-4; 1-8)

The final standings in the Private School Division:

  • 1 – Metrolina (4-0; 8-0)
  • 2 – Covenant Day (3-1; 6-2)
  • T3 – Freedom Christian (1-2; 2-4)
  • T3 – Liberty Prep (1-2; 2-5)
  • 5 – Woodlawn (1-2; 2-4)
  • 6 – Cary Academy (0-3; 1-6)

BONUS WATAUGA PHOTOS

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