It was a strange night of bizarre circumstances, but for the first time in nearly a year, there was high school volleyball in Haywood County.
Rookie Head Coach Montana Moore took to the Tuscola sideline for the first time to coach against her alma mater, Pisgah High School, for an empty-gym scrimmage that felt more like a practice than an actual match.
“It was kind of surreal not having fans there,” said Moore after the scrimmage. “That itself was wild and not anything like what we are used to, but I think that the girls on both sides were so excited to play that that didn’t even cross our mind after we initially saw it. We were just so excited to be out there and finally getting to play.”
Pisgah Head Coach Heidi Morgan, who was an assistant coach when Moore played for the Bears, said the empty gym was a first for her, as well.
“At first it was really odd,” Morgan said. “Some of my girls had a hard time adjusting to the fact that their parents weren’t there, especially when their parents haven’t missed a game since they started playing little league, or whatever they started doing when they were 7 and 8 years old. I looked right before our game started and a couple of our players were looking and blowing up kisses to the camera because they knew their parents were watching. That definitely pulls on your heartstrings.”
The match was not scored on the scoreboard. Instead, the teams played for 45 minutes, during which time Pisgah won the first set, 25-22, while Tuscola held the lead in the second 22-20 as time expired. Morgan said she was impressed by what Moore has already done in her first year at Tuscola.
“She has a strong program,” Morgan said of her former player. “She’s done a good job getting them started. They work well. They work hard. They seem to be responding to her really well. It was a proud moment to see a former player succeed in a different light.”
Moore was pleased with her team’s initial effort, and several players in particular stuck out to her.
“Addison Wyatt, our setter, she’s always such a good leader,” said Moore. “I always think that the setter is kind of like the quarterback in football. She is kind of like the captain of the team and she is the one who is making a lot of the plays and having to read and think about where the ball is going to go. I think she did an excellent job with that tonight. And then Hannah Wells, our middle, she’s a junior, she really stood out to me tonight. She was very aggressive at the net and she just never let up. She was killing balls and I think she really stepped up for us tonight, as well.”
Tuscola will open up the season at home against North Henderson on Tuesday, Nov. 17, while Pisgah will travel to Smokey Mountain on the same day.