Fruitland – North Henderson defeated West Henderson in volleyball for the first time in nearly a full decade, tying the Falcons for first in the Mountain Seven standings.
West bounced back from that loss on Sept. 21 to win the next four matches. On September 26, he defeated reigning MAC champion T.C. Roberson (by 22-25, 25-16, 25-22, and 30-28).
Roberson (14-5) fell 3-1 a day earlier at tenacious-digging rival A.C. Reynolds and its leading hitter Kellyn Henretta. The scores were 27-25, 25-18, 16-25, and 25-16. Leading Ram hitters include leaper Karlie Henning, big Amelia Novak and agile Tymber Thompson.
Roberson closes its MAC season by hosting Reynolds (10-4) on Thursday, Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. ACR ends its MAC slate Oct. 18 at home versus McDowell.
Third-place Enka (10-4; 6-2) was behind outside hitter Ally Darby as she swept ACR 29-27, 25-15, and 25-23 last Thursday, Sept. 29. Jessica (Banks) Curtis coaches Enka. The Sugar Jets host Nicole Vertel-coached Asheville (8-3, 4-3) on Oct. 18.
West (18-3) and North Henderson (15-3-1) are both 9-1 in M7 volleyball. They have beaten all challengers thus far. They are three games ahead of Franklin (13-5; 6-4). NHHS beat FHS 3-0 twice – most recently on Sept. 28 – and is on a ten-game win streak. West hosts Franklin on Thursday, Oct. 6 for Senior Night, while NHHS is at Hendersonville (5-7; 4-4 Mtn. Foothills).
West beat North Henderson 3-1 at home on Aug. 25. The arch rivals thus split their regular-season series. They are on a collision course in the M7 tourney at East Henderson late next week. Their head coaches are North’s Sue Moon and West’s Tiffany Lowrance. They have won nearly 900 matches combined.
Moon is within 20 wins of 600 career victories—1,000 when adding her basketball wins through 2018. She is the reigning 3A N.C. Volleyball Coaches Association’s state coach of the year for her 22-6 season. NHHS at 10-2 was the M7 runner-up to West (21-5; 12-0) in 2021.
Edneyville native Sue (Dalton) Moon started coaching at NHHS when the school opened in 1993. She next coached Enka volleyball for eight seasons, then returned to NHHS in 2013. She succeeded Bonnie Dotson, who now coaches Reynolds.
North Henderson last beat West in volleyball nine years ago, Coach Sue Moon recalled. The Knights were pumped against West at home on Aug. 25. They took the first two sets (games), 25-21 and 25-19. But top hitter Peyton Taylor left with a right ankle injury. To tie the match, West rallied to win 25-19 and decisively 25-15.
The Knights pulled together and won the finale, 15-12. Before that decisive set, Coach Moon “reminded us to play our game,” and the players both focused well and felt extra adrenaline, Bailey Rowe said.
“I’m proud of how we stepped up,” Taylor said after the match while on crutches. New Knight Ty Case, a transfer from Brevard, filled Taylor’s void with many timely kills. She said she likes the more closed-knit NHHS camaraderie. Lexie Gunter, among NHHS seniors, is thrilled to finally beat West and to be on track to be M7 co-champions.
Rowe led the celebration with a victory dance once the team lined up after the win. Rowe called beating West simply “amazing!” Her service winner clinched the opening set.
Athletic Rowe repeatedly hit slams in the middle of North’s side of the court, in a “back row attack.” A hitter from the back row must keep his feet at least 10 feet behind the net while hitting the ball, but can follow through over that 10-foot line. Moon said she does not rotate out hitters and encourages them to spike the ball from anywhere on the court.
TCR head coach Michelle Wagaman said her squad relies more on middle hitting than the sledgehammering outside hitting of last season’s 6-2 Mackenzie Lynch. Lynch and setter Emerson Hoyle both graduated.
Wagaman praised ACR’s digging (retrieving), and West and North Henderson’s team height and depth, with several excellent hitters. North’s veteran squad beat ACR. Reynolds Coach Dotson noted after falling 3-0 at West on Aug. 31 that the Falcon attack revolves mostly around 6-2 sophomore Emma Bryson. Bryson noted she knows many Buncombe players from travel ball, making matches friendly rivalries.
The TCR Lady Rams’ loudest cheers for a teammate on Sept. 26 were after six-foot Thompson blocked Bryson. Thompson later grinned about it. She said she gets extra energized whenever “the team is cheering me on.” She won the first set with a “kill” shot.
West won the last set at TCR by 30–28. Payton Brown slammed the winning shot then, and it was West’s first set win. She was elated that West beat another elite program.