Hibriten falls in MVC opener

The Ashe County Huskies eked past the Hibriten Panthers in the first game Tuesday night in Lenoir before cruising to a 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-9) victory in the volleyball conference opener for both squads.

The see-saw battle for the first game began early as both teams made runs. The Panthers jumped out to a 6-4 lead before the Huskies rallied to take a 10-6 lead.

Hibriten fought back trimming, the lead to just one, 10-9. The Panthers steadily regained the lead and extended it to 18-14.

But Ashe battled back knotting the first game at 18-18. With the score tied at 20-20, the Huskies posted two points on Briana Day serves. The Panthers picked up two more points, but Whitney Day finished off Hibriten with two aces.

The second game began in much the same fashion as the entire first game. However with the game tied 7-7, the Huskies rattled off a 9-2 run for a 16-9 lead. Ashe County steadily built upon their lead gaining a 2-0 lead by winning the second game 25-16.

The Huskies cruised in the final game as Kendra Tedder posted eight service points, including the final six points of the match.

For the Panthers, Rachel Keller posted a team-high seven service points for the match while her teammate, Aya Negooka, posted six straight service points in the second game.

The loss drops the Panthers to 0-6 on the season and 0-1 in the Mountain Valley 2A. Hibriten travels to Wilkes Central to take on the Eagles on Thursday.

West wins MVC opener

The West Caldwell volleyball team got its conference season off to a solid start, winning in three games at West Wilkes.

The Lady Warriors improved to 4-2 with the 25-20, 25-9, 25-20 victory.

Kaylin Carswell led the team in service points, kills and digs. The Lady Warriors had 17 points on her serve, Carswell put down 12 kills and came up with eight digs.

Lauren Owens totalled 16 assists, and Jordan Greer finished with nine service points and 10 assists.

Ashley McKinney had eight service points, and Melissa Watson totalled eight kills.

McKinney had five service points in the opening game, and Carswell and Watson combined for 10 kills.

With the Lady Warriors wining 7-2 in the second game, Carswell rolled off nine service points for a 16-2 Lady Warrior advantage. Greer served out the game.

West Wilkes (4-2, 0-1) used a 6-1 run to open an 18-16 lead in the third game. But the Lady Warriors bounced back to take a 21-18 lead before Owens served out the game.

Girls’ tennis

The Ashe County Huskies narrowly nipped the Hibriten Panthers 5-4 in the tennis conference opener for both teams.

Hibriten’s Maggie Sime knocked off the Huskies’ No. 1 player, Katherine Hanes 6-4, 6-1.

Cameron Joyce, the Panthers’ No. 2 player, helped out the Hibriten cause with a dominating 6-0, 6-1 victory over Emily Hudler.

The Panthers’ Katie Rash, playing in the No. 4 spot, secured a 3-3 tie for Hibriten heading into doubles play with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Lauren Roland.

However, the Panthers doubles team of Wallis Hutchens and Rash were the only Hibriten team to pick up a victory in the final three matches of the contest.

Hibriten will travel to defending North Carolina 2-A team champion Wilkes Central on Thursday.

Ashe County 5, Hibriten 4

Singles

Maggie Sime (H) def. Katherine Hanes 6-4, 6-3; Cameron Joyce (H) def. Emily Hudler 6-0, 6-1; Alex Eller (A) def. Wallis Hutchens 6-1, 6-4; Katie Rash (H) def. Lauren Roland 6-2, 6-4; Lorna Vaga (A) def. Gracelyn Cruden 6-0, 6-0; Ruthie Stafford (A) def. Kate Barlow 6-3, 6-1.

Doubles

Vaga/Hanes (A) def. Sime/Joyce 8-6; Hutchens/Rash (H) def. Hudler/Eller 8-1; Roland/Stafford (A) def. Cruden/Barlow 8-3.

Middle School Softball

The Granite Falls Blue Demons knocked off the Gamewell Braves 23-7 Tuesday afternoon at South Caldwell High School.

Kayla Gross picked up the win for the Blue Demons. Granite Falls’ Allyson Minton went 3-for-4 with a homer and five RBIs while her teammates Britney Bartle and Kristin Lackey each went 3-for-4 also and driving in three and two runs respectively.

Felisha Smith and Holly Beane each posted triples for the Braves.

Granite Falls’ next game is Thursday at East Alexander.

Blue-collar attitude: McCall gives consistency and heart on defensive side of ball

There is a bulletin board that hangs in the auxiliary gym at West Caldwell as you head down the hallway towards the boys’ basketball locker room.

On this particular bulletin board, draped in royal blue paper, hangs a white banner across the top proclaiming “Player of the Week” and two weeks into the 2004 football season Justin McCall’s name has been posted under that banner twice.

The senior linebacker, who is also putting in some time at tailback and punting, was a natural choice for the Warrior coaching staff to make for consecutive players of the week.

“He plays hard when you’re winning and he plays hard you’re behind,” West Caldwell head coach Mark Buffamoyer said. “He exemplifies what we’re asking our football players to do and that is play hard regardless of what the score is, regardless of what the situation is.

“He’s out there trying to make plays and we’re proud of him. He’s setting an example for some young kids in West Caldwell football.”

Even during a disappointing 31-13 loss to South Caldwell – the first loss to the Spartans since 1993 – McCall tallied 14 tackles and an interception against West Caldwell’s county rival.

“Every game I play, I play with all my heart,” the Warrior linebacker said. “I try my best to do what I can out there. I just leave it all out on the field and try until I can’t go no more.”

The loss hurt, but McCall said he cannot dwell on past games.

“It was hard (to lose to South Caldwell),” McCall said. “(You) go out there and try your best and lose. You’ve just got to fight until next week and see what happens.”

Even in the fourth quarter, the Warrior linebacker never conceded the victory to the Spartans, posting five of his 14 tackles in the final frame.

“That’s when it counted for us. It’s an opportunity to say, ‘Hey, I slept,’ or ‘I’m not going to make a play,’ and here’s a kid who makes four (tackles) in a row at one time in the fourth quarter,” Buffamoyer said about McCall’s fourth quarter performance.

“That’s what we tell our kids – it’s easy to play when you’re winning. We want to know when the chips are down how hard you’re going to play.”

However, McCall, in a typical football defense mindset, is less interested in individual accomplishments than he is in winning.

“Without the team, we can’t win because one guy can’t do it all,” he said.

McCall would not mind repeating his all-conference and all-county performance from last year in his senior season, but he also recognizes there are 10 other guys on defense that have to do their jobs for the Warriors to find success.

“We’ve got to practice hard everyday and get better and better,” the Warrior linebacker said.

This get-the-job-done mentality impresses his new football coach to no end.

“We may have some kids who have great numbers that may not be our player of the week,” Buffamoyer said. “We’re talking about beyond the call of duty and he’s been named (player of the week) twice – the Watauga and the South Caldwell (game) – because he plays hard consistently.

“He’s not playing one quarter and then taking a quarter off – just consistently for eight quarters now in two football games, he’s exemplified that.”

As with any coaching change, especially at the head coach’s spot, there is an acclimation period for a football team. However, McCall’s blue-collar attitude made the adjustment quickly.

“It’s a lot different. We changed offenses and we changed the defense around a lot,” McCall said. “But the more you practice, you get used to it. It didn’t take long for me to get used to it.”

As a linebacker, he preferred the 6-3 defense to the 4-4, eight-man front which Buffamoyer brought in, but he’s never complained and simply made the changes he’s needed to make to be successful in the new system.

“Whatever he wants to do,” McCall said about Buffamoyer’s changes.

And the coaching staff has the utmost confidence in McCall’s talents and leadership on the gridiron.

“He sets his example by what he does, and that is on the field. When he is on the field, I trust him because I know that he is going to play hard,” Buffamoyer said. “Vocal? No, but I think he sets the best example. He’s going to do it and then talk about it, and actually he doesn’t really talk about it. He just plays hard and that’s what we want him to do is play hard.”

The senior linebacker is more than just a football player, though.

McCall also plays baseball and wrestles. He admires St. Louis Cardinals’ slugger Albert Pujols and plays first base for the Warriors as well as wrestling in the 189 weight class.

“My dad got me into (baseball),” McCall said. “He’s pushed me to play any sport that I could, mainly to keep me out of trouble.”

He enjoys hunting and swimming.

But for now, he’s a football player – a blue-collar, get-your-job-done football player.

“He’s not looking for anything special,” Buffamoyer said. “He’s just wants the opportunity to play football, and he’s getting that opportunity and he’ll continue to get the opportunity to do that here.”

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