Matthew Gorry Sports Writer
November 15, 2013
BOONVILLE — In the middle of Starmount’s dominating run to the 1A volleyball state championship earlier this month was a strong senior trio with veteran leadership looking to go out on top.
The “Big Three” of Erin Barr, Hunter Welborn and Haley Hartman powered the Lady Rams to six straight sweeps through the 1A bracket en route to a 3-0 victory over Raleigh Charter in the title match Nov. 2 in Raleigh.
“They’re going to be hard to replace,” Starmount Head Coach Jon Symons said following the championship match. “We talk to each other outside the volleyball court, we’ve yelled at each other and wanted to beat the crap out of each other. But at the end of the day, we’ve played volleyball together and that’s what was important to us.
“I’ve been on teams where other things got in the way. But this group…they just wanted to play volleyball and wanted to win,” he added.
And all the trio did was win. In the three years, they suited up together on the court, the Lady Rams racked up an impressive 82 wins, compared to just 14 losses.
Barr, Welborn and Hartman captured three Mountain Valley Conference championships during their reign without dropping a single game to league foes, while advancing to at least the fourth round of the state playoffs all three seasons.
Barr, who started on Starmount’s 2010 2A state title team as a freshman, finished her four-year career with 111 losses and two championship rings.
But each senior was at their best this season in their final run at a state title.
Barr finished the year with 998 assists — giving her 4,024 for her stellar career — with 172 digs, 108 kills and 84 blocks. She also converted nearly 84 percent of her serves with 61 aces.
Welborn, a two-time high jump state champion in track, slammed home 537 kills, while stuffing 199 attempts. She added 182 digs and 75 service aces, good for second on the team (behind Alli St. John’s 89).
Hartman, who was also a member of the 2010 championship squad as a freshman, tallied a team-high 383 digs, 281 kills (second behind Welborn) this season, while converting 90 percent of her serves with 63 aces.
“You can’t say enough about the three,” Symons said, early in the playoffs. “Even now in the state playoffs of their senior year, I’m watching them get even better, and it’s fun to watch. It’s not skill stuff, but things they see on the floor, which means they’re thinking athletically.”
The trio continued their strong run becoming the first Starmount team to sweep through the playoffs — winning every match 3-0 — culminating with the convincing victory in the title match over Raleigh Charter. Barr was named the MVP of the match.
The trio then sat together with their coach in the media room at Reynolds Coliseum on the campus of NC State, hugging each other, laughing and smiling, finally being able to relax after achieving their championship goal.
“It’s hard to watch them walk out knowing that that is their last match ever,” Symons said. “But they ended it the way they wanted to end it — with a ring.
“Now we get the fun part. We get to design a ring, get to be in parades and all that stuff that comes with winning the state championship.”
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.