The Best

Currituck wins 2A volleyball state championship

Currituck wins first title in program history

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Currituck's Faith Hughes (8) leaps for joy and celebrates with teammates after their defeat of West Davidson in the 2A volleyball championship match. The Currituck Knights and the West Davidson Dragons met in the NCHSAA 2A volleyball finals in Raleigh, N.C. on November 3, 2018. Currituck wins 3-0 and the 2018 2A volleyball title.

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By David Gough
Sports Writer

Sunday, November 4, 2018

RALEIGH — The Currituck Lady Knights are state champions.

They accomplished it by winning the match the same way they have won most of the season. The Lady Knights dominated, sweeping West Davidson 25-13, 25-9, 25-21 at North Carolina State’s Reynolds Coliseum, Saturday afternoon.

Currituck (22-6) swept each opponent it faced through all six rounds of the playoffs to become 2A NCHSAA state volleyball champions for the first time in program history.

“That was a pleasant surprise for us,” Currituck coach Doug Towle said, of not losing a set throughout the postseason. “We certainly didn’t expect that, but going into the playoffs our goal was one game at a time and taking it to the opponent.

“When we practiced, we focused on what we did well and not so much what other opponents did. To me, that was just a byproduct of how the team played.”

The Lady Knights did take it to their opponent on Saturday as they led for the vast majority of each set. The beginning of the match, however, looked promising for anyone expecting a tight state championship contest.

West Davidson, the No. 4 seed West Regional champions and losers of just one set throughout the postseason, got started quickly.

The Lady Dragons (26-7) were led by Ashley Johnson right out of the gate. She had three kills and a block to put Currituck in a 4-0 hole.

But the Lady Knights regrouped quickly to score the next five points and take their first lead of the night.

It was even play for a little bit as West Davidson eventually took a 10-8 lead, but that’s when Currituck caught fire and didn’t let up for the remainder of the match.

The Lady Knights scored 17 of the first set’s final 20 points on their way to a 25-13 win, with seven unanswered points in the midst of it.

“I think that speaks to the senior leadership of the team that we have,” Towle said. “If a team gets a few points up on us, then they make minor adjustments within. We don’t do anything crazy.”

Currituck kept it going through the second set as it absolutely dominated its way to a 2-0 lead in sets.

The momentum was so clearly on the Lady Knights’ side that West Davidson coach Michael Green used both of his timeouts before Currituck even scored its 13th point of the set.

Eventually, the Lady Knights stormed to a 19-3 lead, rattling off 11 consecutive points to get to that score.

In that time, 6-foot-2 freshman Macy Pace was a force. Three blocks and two kills from her killed anything the Lady Dragons had.

“I just learned to watch everyone’s shoulders and where they’ve been hitting the ball before,” Pace said, after the game. “It was very exciting. I was very nervous at the beginning, but I guess I pulled through.”

Towle agreed completely that she pulled through as he immediately followed Pace’s statement with a laugh and a “You did” in the post-game interview.

After keeping West Davidson at bay in the second set for a 25-9 win, the third set proved to be the most difficult for the Lady Knights.

The Lady Dragons were tied with Currituck 10-10 as the teams went back and forth with the lead.

A couple kills from sophomore Merritt Woodson, who finished with 10 kills, gave the Lady Knights the lead a couple times shortly after the tie and senior Kamryn Johnson began a run that would separate Currituck enough to eventually reach championship point.

Three consecutive points from the four-year varsity member gave the Lady Knights a 16-13 advantage.

Another kill and an ace later from the star outside hitter, Currituck was in control leading 21-15.

West Davidson scored four consecutive points to get back into it, but the Lady Knights held them off as junior Whitney Shilling came up with championship point to end Currituck’s season at the top of the state.

Johnson’s 16 kills and 37 digs were good enough to earn the state championship’s most valuable player award in her final high school indoor volleyball game ever.

“Definitely how I wanted to end my senior year,” Johnson said. “I knew this was going to be my last indoor game and we finished it. I can’t be more proud.”

Kayleigh Reagan-Smith, another senior leader on the team, finished with 32 digs and five aces. Senior Faith Hughes contributed 31 assists and 12 digs.

“Incredibly special group (of seniors),” Towle said. “I think the footprint that these seniors have left on the program is just incredible. You just won’t be able to replace what the seniors here have meant to the program.”

The championship gives Currituck County High School its fifth state championship ever, including 2017 girls golf, 1991 and 1993 softball, and 1986 boys basketball.

“I feel like I’m in a dream right now,” Reagan-Smith said. “I don’t even know if this is real.”