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Parkway rallies to stay undefeated, middle school VB brackets set

By David Rogers. BLOWING ROCK, N.C. — While the last, regular season Watauga County middle school volleyball matches on Oct. 3 provided some clarity as to the best and least skilled teams, the rankings in the middle as the league heads into the playoff phase of the season became a bit more muddled. And most of the impact occurred in the Blowing Rock gymnasium where Hardin Park, Parkway and Blowing Rock engaged in a tri-match.

BONUS PHOTOS AT BOTTOM OF ARTICLE (click any image for slideshow mode)

After No. 1 ranked Parkway sprinted to an 8-3 lead in its opening set vs. No. 2 Hardin Park, the Golden Eagles went on a run and tied the score at 8-8. They carried that momentum to spirited, 25-21 upset win in that first set, but then Parkway morphed into the team that brought an undefeated record into the evening’s contest. Receiving solid back row defensive play from the likes of Caroline Childers, exquisite sets fashioned by Gracie Belle Brown and powerful kill shots (and defensive blocking) from the arms of front row hitters Giana Clark and Kira Beasley, the Patriots surged to dominating, 25-9, 25-11 wins in decisive second and third sets.

Hardin Park head coach Andy Eggers counsels the Golden Eagles during a timeout in their first set upset of Parkway on Oct. 3 at Blowing Rock School. Photographic image by David Rogers

That outcome solidified Parkway’s No. 1 seed going into the playoffs undefeated, as well as secured Hardin Park with the No. 2 seed, the team’s only regular season losses to the Patriots.

Both teams had little trouble with Blowing Rock, although the Rockets frequently battled through lengthy rallies in front of an enthusiastic home crowd. Hardin Park prevailed over their hosts, 2-0 (25-10, 25-9), while Parkway’s 2-0 win over the Rockets was a little closer (25-13, 25-22) while getting more players court time.

Parkway libero Caroline Childers comes up with a dig vs. Hardin Park on Oct. 3. Photographic image by David Rogers

Blowing Rock came into the evening’s action with a solid hold on fourth place in the standings, behind Parkway, Hardin Park and Cove Creek, but the two losses dropped the Rockets into a 3-way tie for fourth at 5-9, with Green Valley and Valle Crucis. League commissioner Andy Eggers announced that NCHSAA tie-breaking guidelines were used, focused on head-to-head competition, so Blowing Rock received the No. 4 seed, Green Valley the No. 5 and Valle Crucis the No. 6.

CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT BRACKETS SET

With that established, the bracket for the 2023 middle school volleyball playoff tournament is set. Round 1 schedule on Thursday, Oct. 5 will be:

  • 4 p.m. – No. 1 Parkway vs. No. 8 Bethel
  • 5 p.m. – No. 2 Hardin Park vs. No. 7 Mabel
  • 6 p.m. – No. 3 Cove Creek vs. No. 6 Valle Crucis
  • 7 p.m. – No. 4 Blowing Rock vs. No. 5 Green Valley

The second and championship rounds will be played on Tuesday, Oct. 10. Because of the home Appalachian State football game vs. Coastal Carolina the same night, the times have been moved up. The revised schedule:

  • 4 p.m. – winner of Parkway-Bethel vs. the winner of Blowing Rock-Green Valley
  • 5 p.m. – winner of Hardin Park=Mabel vs. the winner of Cove Crek-Valley Crucis
  • 6 p.m. -CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
BONUS PHOTOS FROM OCT. 3 @ BLOWING ROCK
Parkway libero Caroline Childers comes up with a dig vs. Hardin Park on Oct. 3. Photographic image by David Rogers

Gracie Belle Brown (3) sets for Parkway on Oct. 3 at Blowing ?Rock School vs. Hardin Park. Photographic image by David Rogers

Hardin Park head coach Andy Eggers counsels the Golden Eagles during a timeout in their first set upset of Parkway on Oct. 3 at Blowing Rock School. Photographic image by David Rogers

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