Orange Volleyball

Orange Panther of the Week: Ava Wilkerson

This week’s Orange Panther of the Week is sophomore middle blocker Ava Wilkerson. Last fall, Wilkerson was the middle blocker for the most successful Orange volleyball team in history. The Panthers became just the second team in school history to win a regional championship in volleyball after beating Carrboro for the title inside Panther Gymnasium. Wilkerson, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, led the team with 79 total blocks. Wilkerson opened the year with a bang by racking up seven blocks in the season-opening win over Jordan in Hillsborough. The following night, Wilkerson had seven blocks in a four-set loss to Carrboro, a team that Orange would get very familiar with. Wilkerson was also a quality attacker. She had 19 kills in a sweep of Person on October 3. In a span of three matches in late September, Wilkerson had double digit kills against Falls Lake, Western Alamance and Walter Williams. Wilkerson is the younger sister of former Orange outside hitter Allie Wilkerson, who is now playing at Division III Averett University. This year, Orange won the regular season conference championship for the first time since 2005. Wilkerson had a season-high eight blocks in the 3A State Championship match against Kings Mountain at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh. With the Lady Panthers losing two starters, Wilkerson has even bigger goals in mind for next season.

The Top 10 Hillsborough Sports Moments from 2023

Two weeks ago, I was on vacation in Boone to visit my old stomping grounds at Appalachian State. Every time I talk to my old college friends, I have to fight the urge to say “Boone has changed so much” because I hate being repetitive.

But it has. Most of the restaurants and bars that I frequented in the late 1990s are something else now.

It was the 25th anniversary of my college graduation. I texted that to Amanda Smith, a friend who watched me finally walk across that stage at Varsity Gymnasium in December 1998. She simply replied with a gif of a clock with wings, flapping by with nothing limiting its headlong flight.

That’s how 2023 felt. From last winter, when Orange and Cedar Ridge wrestling each won conference championships. To the spring where Orange baseball pulled off an epic comeback in the state playoffs. To the fall when Orange and Cedar Ridge volleyball had memorable wins and Gabriel Schmid ended a legacy. It flew by.

It’s an unofficial list, but here are the top 10 Hillsborough sports moments from 2023.

10. Salomon Hernandez scores game-winning goal for Cedar Ridge men’s soccer against Western Alamance, September 20: The game against Cedar Ridge and Western Alamance at Red Wolves Stadium had been a fierce scoreless contest entering the final minutes. It appeared that the Warriors would break the scoreless draw with 27:36 remaining when Konnor Johnson lined up for a penalty kick. As Cedar Ridge goalkeeper Erik Galunas lined up, Johnson sent the shot wide right. With 4:36 left, Cedar Ridge Captain Iliah Babchenko stepped back for a corner kick. The corner was deflected by to Babchenko, who returned a cross into the penalty box. Hernandez timed his jump perfectly and made enough contact to knock it into the lower left corner of the net, setting off a wild celebration and leading to Cedar Ridge men’s soccer earning its first home game in the state playoffs since 2015.

9. Orange’s Acoya Isley wins 195-pound Mideast Regional championship, February 16: Going into the Mideast Regional championships at Cedar Ridge High last winter, Isley was the #2 seed in the 195-pound tournament with a 28-2 record. He faced the #1 seed Karin Sein of Eastern Guilford, in the championship match. It took only 41 seconds for Isley to score the match’s only takedown. To start the second period, Isley sunk in a half-nelson and scored back points when Sein suffered an injury and couldn’t continue. Isley became the first regional champion from Orange since Levi Anderson in 2019. Isley would eventually reach the 3A State Championship match at 195 pounds.

8. Cedar Ridge wrestling wins Central Conference Tournament championship:, January 21: 2023 will be remembered as the year where Cedar Ridge wrestling stepped out of Orange’s shadow. In December, Cedar Ridge defeated Orange in a dual match for the first time ever. The Red Wolves finished with 185.5 points behind individual championships from Fernando Martinez, Kaden Tatro, and Pierce Prescod. The success carried over into the following academic year. Cedar Ridge is one win away from taking its first regular season championship at the 3A level.

7. Orange lacrosse defeats First Flight to reach 3A/2A/1A East Region Final, May 9: Orange lacrosse hosted its first regional championship match in 2022 against First Flight. The Nighthawks drove over six hours from Kill Devil Hills and frustrated the Panthers with superior defense and a fabulous transition game that led to a 13-7 win. Last spring in the 3rd round of the state playoffs, Orange welcomed First Flight back to Hillsborough and had more offensive weapons. Tigh Metheny scored Orange’s first three goals while the Panthers held the Nighthawks scoreless for 18:56. The Panthers would host the regional championship game for the second straight year.

6. Cedar Ridge volleyball upsets Orange to win Central Conference Tournament, October 18: Possibly the biggest upset of the year locally in any sport. Orange had dominated the Red Wolves in its two previous matchups during the regular season. In the conference tournament title match, Cedar Ridge sophomore Claire Hargett had a career-high 24 kills. Senior Graylinn Serge finished with 12 kills and a season-high 24 digs. Cedar Ridge’s defense found a way to contain Orange’s taller outside hitters. Senior libero Natasha Buchler-Fosado had a career-best 25 digs as the Red Wolves won a conference championship for the fourth straight year.

5. Amiyah Ware scores 54 points, breaks Orange County basketball scoring record, February 3: Chances are Amiyah Ware would have set records late in 2022, but she was still recovering from a torn ACL that required her to miss the opening games. Once she got healthy, she etched her name in the record books permanently.  Ware scored 54 points against Western Alamance in Elon. She beat the county record set by Orange High’s Ronnie McAdoo set in 1978 when he scored 53 points against Southern Durham. Five days later, Ware scored 51 points in a win at Durham School of the Arts, becoming the first player, regardless of gender, in Orange County history to score 50 points in a game twice in the same season.

4. Orange baseball comes back from five runs down in the bottom of the tenth inning to beat Triton, May 12: Things looked bleak for Orange in the 10th inning against Triton in the 2nd round of the 3A State Playoffs. The Hawks got a three-run triple from Kenneth McCoy, then added an RBI single from Wyatt Avery to go ahead 8-3. Orange made its comeback 90 feet at a time in wildly random fashion. In the bottom of the 10th, Orange got five walks, three hits and a hit batter to make the greatest comeback in team history. Among the highlights was Garrett Sawyer, who had not had a plate appearance all year, somehow batting in the cleanup spot and drawing a walk with one out to score Jackson Berini and cut the lead to 8-7. After Neo Best, who was 0-for-5, tied the game with another bases-loaded walk, Wyatt Hedrick grounded a single up the middle to score Cameron Guentensberger to complete the comeback and send Orange to the round of 16.

3. Orange volleyball defeats Carrboro, wins 3A Eastern Regional championship, October 31: The 2023 Orange volleyball team never had the state championship as a goal. Since 2020, they hadn’t even been the best team in its own town, much less the state. Under first-year head coach Hope Heverly, Orange played ten straight matches away from home in late August and September. They won seven of them, setting up a undefeated run to the Central Conference championship. They avenged a loss to Carrboro in the Eastern Regional championship match on Halloween. Trailing two-sets-to-one, Orange won the fourth set 25-19. In the fifth, Katie Silcott scored the 14th point. Aubrey Jordan spiked home match point to carry Orange to a 15-9 win. Ella Wimsatt, the 2023 Central Conference Player of the Year, finished with 19 kills and 19 digs. Libero Sadye Porter, whose return to the team after sitting out her junior season can’t be underestimated, had 34 digs. Aubrey Jordan finished with 15 kills while Ava Wilkerson had 13 kills as Orange reached the state championship match for only the second time ever.

2. Gabriel Schmid repeats at 3A State Cross Country champion, November 4: Gabriel Schmid doesn’t live in his comfort zone. That’s how he went from not qualifying for the 3A State Cross Country Championships as a freshman to becoming just the second Orange High runner to win a state championship in cross country. On November 4, Schmid won his second 3A State Championship at the Ivey Redmond Sports Complex in Kernersville. He finished with a time of 15:14.75, a good 34 seconds ahead of the closest competitor. Last month, Schmid announced his commitment to run at N.C. State. Schmid improved on his time from the 2022 state championship that he won, also in Kernersville.

1. Katie Belle Sikes named Most Outstanding Swimmer of 3A State Championships, February 16:  In 2022, Sikes changed travel teams to a coach that encouraged swimming in high school competitions. Mind you, Sikes became the first Orange swimmer to win a state championship as a sophomore. Last February, Sikes won the 50 yard freestyle and the 100 yard freestyle state championships at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary. She set a new state record in the 50 yard freestyle (regardless of classification) at 22.17 seconds. It was the 10th fastest time ever recorded in a high school meet in American history. She won the 100 meters championship at 49.45, another automatic All-American time. She took the anchor leg in the 200 yard freestyle relay with Riley White, Ainsley Rasinske and Piper White, becoming the first relay team to win a state championship in Orange history. Sikes officially signed with the University of Georgia last month. She’s already qualified for five regional events this winter.


Orange’s Wimsatt named Central Conference Player of the Year; Orange’s Heverly named Coach of the Year

Orange’s second regional championship in volleyball has led to a sweep of the Central Conference awards for 2023.

Senior Ella Wimsatt has been named the Central Conference Player of the Year. First-year head coach Hope Heverly is the Central Coach of the Year after leading the Lady Panthers to its first conference championship since 2005.

Orange finished 27-5 this season and won the 3A Eastern Regional championship. The Lady Panthers advanced to the 3A State Championship match for the first time since 2004, where they extended Kings Mountain to five sets at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh. Kings Mountain won the state title in five sets, the only time all year that the Mountaineers were taken to a fifth set all season.

Wimsatt, who announced her college commitment to Lenoir-Rhyne earlier this week, led Orange with 456 kills this season. She also was second on the team with 19 digs, second only to senior libero Sadye Porter.

It was a breakthrough season for Wimsatt, who had waited since her freshman year to play on a conference champion after neighboring Cedar Ridge won the previous three league titles. The Lady Panthers romped through the Central Conference this fall, dropping only one set during an undefeated run to the conference crown.

Wimsatt had 20 or more kills three times this season. Against Falls Lake on August 24 in Creedmoor, Wimsatt had a season-high 24 kills in a 3-1 Orange win. In a rematch in Hillsborough on September 20, Wimsatt would finished wit 20 kills, 19 digs and two aces against the Firebirds in another 3-1 Lady Panther victory. Falls Lake would go on to win the 1A Eastern Regional championship.

Orange went into the 3A State Playoffs as a #2 seed, but hosted five state playoff matches, including the Eastern Regional championship match against Carrboro. It was in her final matches at home where Wimsatt played her most inspired sets.

In the state quarterfinals, Orange faced J.H. Rose, the defending 3A Eastern Regional champions. Wimsatt delivered 20 kills against the Rampants, along with 28 digs, a season-high. Orange would defeated Rose 3-2 to advance to the Final Four.

Against Carrboro, Wimsatt delivered 19 kills, 19 digs and two aces as Orange defeated the Jaguars in a thrilling five-set match. Orange avenged an earlier loss to the Jaguars from August 16.

Wimsatt concluded her Orange career with 575 kills. In addition to being the top player for Orange in its deepest run in state playoff history, Wimsatt was also a member of the 2022 women’s soccer team, which reached the third round of the state playoffs. That was the deepest playoff run for the Orange women’s soccer program since its inception in 1989. Orange defeated Cape Fear in the second round before losing to conference rival Walter Williams in the third round in Burlington.

Heverly returned to her alma mater this season after nine years away from high school coaching. While she maintained her place in the game with the D.O.V.E Club program in Durham, she hadn’t coached high school since 2014 when she concluded a three-year stint at Person.

Heverly was a member of Orange’s 2004 team that reached the state championship match. She returned this season and took a squad that included sophomore outside hitter Aubrey Jordan, sophomore middle blocker Ava Wilkerson and freshman outside hitter Sawyer White and molded it into the most successful Orange volleyball team ever.

Heverly also had the return of Porter, who proved to be a valuable defender. Porter, who didn’t play in 2022, led Orange with a team-high 521 digs. Porter also had 47 aces, which was third on the team.

The Lady Panthers lose Wimsatt, Porter, Josie Crawford and Blessiny Deronette, who will all graduate in June. Orange will return four starters next year, including Jordan, Wilkerson, White and sophomore middle blocker Mariah Poole. They will also have sophomore setter Katie Silcott, who may have set a single-season school record with 1,037 assists in 2023.

Be a Rock Star–Orange volleyball made the rounds leading up to the state championships

It’s a ride that the truly great teams in Orange and Cedar Ridge history have taken.

The trip to Pullen Road in Raleigh. It’s a route that the 2017 Orange softball team rode when they swept a two-game series from Piedmont to win the 3A State Championship at Dail Park.

One Saturday afternoon in 2021, the Cedar Ridge volleyball team turned onto Pullen Road after sweeping J.H. Rose to win the Eastern Regional championship four days earlier. Two hours later, they emerged with their own state championship, beating North Iredell in four sets.

When it was time for the Orange volleyball team to make its trip to Raleigh on Saturday, they were accompanied by an escort from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department as they rode down the road that bears the high school’s name.

Two weeks after the Rolling Stones released its first album of new studio material in 18 years, the Orange volleyball players got to feel a little like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for a few days. They were treated like celebrities after they defeated Carrboro to win the 3A Eastern Regional Championship.

That’s because the state championship match isn’t just one game, regardless of the sport.

It’s an experience.

In fact, the principal of Efland-Cheeks Elementary School, Kelly Parks, extended an invitation to the Orange volleyball team to meet with their students before they clinched the regional championship.

“The win just made it sweeter,” said Orange coach Hope Heverly.

As Orange arrived on Friday, they were showered with posters designed by students. They signed autographs and listened to chants of “Go, Orange, Go” from the pupils.

“It was so cute because the students acted like we were celebrities,” said senior Ella Wimsatt. “They asked for our autographs. It’s a good feeling to feel wanted by your community.”

For Heverly, it was a return to Raleigh. She made the same trip to Reynolds Coliseum as a player in 2004, the only other time Orange volleyball reached the state championship match. They were swept by Mooresville.

“It didn’t look as big as it did when I was 18,” Heverly said. “But it did bring back some memories. The players should feel very proud. This is a tremendous accomplishment to reach. Not everyone can say they reach this point. So to have the opportunity to play here, and then to coach here with such an amazing team, I feel truly lucky.”

This Orange volleyball team will go down in history as an elite one, but there was a difference between them and their predecessors in softball and volleyball.

The 2017 softball team always had reaching the state championship series in mind six years ago. The mission started the previous year, when they were knocked out in the third round by C.B. Aycock when Mia and Montana Davidson played alongside each other.

Likewise, the 2021 Cedar Ridge volleyball team knew their mission was Reynolds Coliseum or bust when they swept defending 3A State Champions D.H. Conley in Greenville in the first week of the 2021 season.

Even after they won the Central Carolina Conference regular season championship with a 12-0 record, the Orange volleyball players weren’t sure what was ahead in the state playoffs because it was all uncharted waters.

“Honestly, I knew we would have a pretty good team,” Porter said. “But I never imagined playing in a state championship. Other than girls at Cedar Ridge, I don’t know anyone who has played in a state championship before. So it’s really an unreal feeling. And I feel very grateful to be a part of this team.”

It was especially unusual for a team that played three sophomores and a freshman in its rotation for the final three weeks of the year, including Aubrey Jordan, who was second on the team in kills.

“I remember being little and hearing people talk about state championships,” Jordan said. “But as a sophomore, I never expected to be here. It’s incredible.”

This season, Heverly returned to high school coaching nine years after she left Person High. When she replaced Kelly Young in April, she knew her team’s potential. But she couldn’t imagine what the ride would look like.

“We definitely wouldn’t have been here without our coach,” Wimsatt said. “I couldn’t be happier with this team. I don’t think most teams go into their season thinking they were going to reach a state championship. I think we did a good job pushing through this season.”

While the storybook ended of winning a state championship didn’t come to fruition at Reynolds, it wasn’t a losing experience.

A certain rock star might say that Orange didn’t get what they wanted, but they got what they needed.

“I’m walking out with my head held high,” Porter said. “It sucks that we lost, but I gave it my all. Our team gave it our all.”

Queen’s Mountain–Mountaineers hold off Orange volleyball 3-2 to win 3A State Championship

RALEIGH–It was a good day for Orange volleyball.

They played for a 3A State Championship on Saturday for only the second time in school history. Hundreds of fans drove in from Hillsborough to Reynolds Coliseum at Valvano Arena to watch them play. When Orange’s players were introduced, the lights dimmed down and the spotlight came on, each player stepping onto the floor with adoring applause in the same arena that David Thompson, Rodney Monroe and Tom Burleson played in. And Kay Yow coached in.

When Kings Mountain’s Melie Saongaila slammed down match point onto the polyethylene floor to end an epic five-set match, there were some tears along a disappointed Orange bench.

It was the last game for seniors Ella Wimsatt, Sadye Porter, Josie Crawford and Blessiny Deronette.

But there wasn’t bitterness and there wasn’t a feeling of a season that had fallen short of expectations.

Orange was the first team to extend Kings Mountain to five sets in 2023. The Mountaineers lost only four sets all year, then dropped two of the first three to the Lady Panthers on Saturday.

In the postmatch press conference, there were even a few smiles that flashed across the faces of Wimsatt, Porter, Aubrey Jordan and head coach Hope Heverly. They knew this was a team that had played to the maximum of its ability.

In the end, they were only three points shy of winning the first volleyball state championship in school history.

Kings Mountain (33-1) defeated Orange 3-2 on scores of 25-12, 25-27, 20-25, 25-21, 15-12. The Mountaineers claimed its third state championship, its first since 2001. They ended the season with 19 consecutive wins.

Orange, playing in its first state championship match since 2004, ends the season 27-5.

Songaila, a senior who finished with over 500 kills on the season, was named Most Valuable Player.

“I am very proud of this team,” Heverly said. “I wish the outcome could have been a little different but I’m super proud of their grit and their determination.”

The ballots for MVP were passed out on press row after the third set. If the vote had been decided at that point, the winner may have been Jordan.

Tied 10-10 in the third set, Jordan’s attacks at the net grew more efficient against a technically strong Mountaineers squad. In Orange’s final 15 points of the third set, Jordan had five kills, including a spike from the near post on set point to give the Lady Panthers a 25-20 victory that sent the Hillsborough faithful into delirium.

“We knew the match wasn’t over,” Wimsatt said. “We were confident, but we weren’t getting cocky about that because we knew they were a good team, too. We knew they would come back. We had to keep our energy up.”

Wimsatt was awarded the Sportsmanship Award by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association in a pregame ceremony, along with Mary Grace Hogue of Kings Mountain.

Down two-sets-to-one, it would have been easy for Kings Mountain to play scared in the fourth. Instead, they looked more determined. Orange’s only lead in the fourth came when Jordan scored off a feed from freshman Sawyer White to go ahead 2-1. Kings Mountain’s Mary Grace Hogue scored after a long rally when she found an open spot in Orange’s backcourt to even the set, which was followed by a block from senior Myracle Davis. Kings Mountain went on a 7-2 run to take an 11-6 lead after consecutive kills by Songaila. Orange played from behind the entire set. trailing by as much as 14-7. Wimsatt scored off a kill to make it 21-17, but that was as close as Orange would get. Davis took a feed from sophomore Camden Peysour for a thunderous kill to force a fifth set.

Orange’s only lead of the fifth set came after Ava Wilkerson blocked an attack from Davis. Kings Mountain notched the next four points, including a kill by Davis. After two returns by Orange went into the net, Heverly called timeout.

Wilkerson, who had octopus arms blocking all sorts of Mountaineers attacks throughout the day, scored Orange’s next two points. She took an assist from Katie Silcott for a spike, then blocked another Davis spike to reduce the Kings Mountain advantage to 6-4. Kings Mountain responded with four in a row, fueled by kills from Hogue and Davis, followed by an ace from Hogue that made it 10-4.

Orange refused to fold, scoring four in a row. Wimsatt came through with a kill, followed by an ace from junior Abby Silinski to cut the Mountaineers’ lead to 10-8.

Orange sent the next serve long. Songaila took a spike and slammed down a kill to make it 12-8. Wimsatt got another kill. Crawford got an ace to reduce Orange’s deficit to 12-10. Songaila came through again with a kill, but Wimsatt scored consecutive points to make it a one-point match at 13-12. With Orange serving for a tie, Paysour set up Davis for a big kill at the middle of the floor, leading to Songaila scoring on match point.

Orange’s ascendance to the Eastern Regional Championship was so fast, it was easy to forget they often had three sophomores and a freshman in the lineup. Kings Mountain provided a rude awakening in the opening set. After Orange opened with a 7-4 lead, the Mountaineers ended the frame with a 21-5 run, keyed by four kills from Songaila.

“I think we had a little bit of nerves,” Heverly said. “You would never know by how well this team plays together, but we’re a sophomore-heavy team. We have some great seniors leading the team, but overall the team is very young. I think the nerves got the best of us that first set. One of the really strong suits of our team is they make in-game adjustments. They listen really well to myself and (assistant) Coach (Mary Alice) Pike. When we ask them to make a change, they go out there right away and make the change.”

In a tremendous second set, there were six lead changes. Kings Mountain appeared poised to go ahead two sets after Orange was whistled for a rotation violation, which they had not been called for all season. That put the Mountaineers ahead 23-20. But Hogue was then called for a foot fault on the subsequent serve. Orange fought off two sets points, the first when Silcott scored on a kill. Jordan ended an epic point with a spike to even the set at 24-24. Another Jordan ruined a third set Kings Mountain set point. Then Jordan scored consecutive kills, including an interminable set point, to secure an incredible 27-25 second set victory.

When Orange defeated Walter Williams on October 11 for its Senior Night, the seniors didn’t have to answer what they would remember most during their careers. That’s because the moment had not arrived yet.

Yet Wimsatt, Porter, Crawford and Deronnette also never imagined their careers would end at Reynolds Coliseum as members of the best Orange volleyball team ever.

They were disappointed in the postgame on Saturday. But they weren’t distraught for one simple reason. They had come closer to reaching a state championship than any other Orange volleyball team ever.

State championship or not, this was a team that accomplished something that all future Orange teams will aim for.

Starting with next year.


Orange’s Katie Silcott, Mariah Poole, Aubrey Jordan & Ava Wilkerson discuss winning regional title

If you’re going to win a volleyball regional championship for the first time in your own gym, it might as well be a classic match. That’s what Orange had on Tuesday night when they defeated Carrboro in five sets to win the Eastern Regional Championship in Hillsborough. Sophomore Katie Silcott nearly had a triple-double. The setter/outside hitter finished with 24 assists, 14 digs, seven kills and one block. Sophomore Mariah Poole slammed home a kill to clinch the fourth set. Poole also had two crucial blocks, both of which came late in the fourth set. Sophomore Aubrey Jordan finished with 15 kills, including scoring on match point to set off one of the biggest celebrations inside Orange High Gymnasium ever. Ava Wilkerson, another sophomore, had 13 kills with four blocks. The celebration continued long after Jordan slammed home set point as the Lady Panthers set up a trip to Raleigh to face Kings Mountain for the 3A State Championship. It’s Orange’s first regional title since 2004. It was the first time all year that Orange won a five-set match. It was also the first time that Orange won a match despite trailing by a set this season. The game time between the Panthers and the Mountaineers will be at noon on Saturday at Reynolds Coliseum. 

The Magnificent 7, Week 9: I may need new lungs after Tuesday

I’m never going to grow up. And that’s OK.

I think.

On Tuesday night, I sat in the same gym I spent growing up in the late 1980s-early 1990s at Orange High School. Back then, volleyball was still in its formative years. The yearbook from my senior year shows that Orange finished with a 3-19 record. To date myself even more, a team couldn’t score points unless they were serving.

I was getting emotionally wrapped up in basketball games and wrestling matches at Orange inside that gym when I was a teenager.

Fast forward 32 years to this past Tuesday night. And what has changed?

Nothing! Except I was getting emotionally wrapped up in volleyball.

As Orange faced Carrboro for the 3A Eastern Regional Championship, I was still pumped up to see the team from Hillsborough potentially accomplish something that only one volleyball team from my alma mater has doine before: reach the state championship match. I was just as emotionally charged up when Cedar Ridge faced J.H. Rose in each of the past two regional championship games in 2021 and 2022 because I grew up with several of the Red Wolves players’ parents.

I guess that was reflected in the broadcast on Tuesday.

Listening back to the broadcast on Wednesday, that’s an understatement.

When Orange sophomore Katie Silcott scored to set up match point on a soft poke over the net, I couldn’t just label that “a kill” on the air. I had to emphasize the moment. So I drew it out, like Geddy Lee of Rush did leading into the guitar solo on the song “Anthem,”   (this reference is nearly 50 years old!).

“killlLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” is how it sounded. My lungs had to take the brunt at the expense of the emotion of the moment.

Maybe it isn’t healthy for someone my age to be this emotionally wrapped up into what teenagers play, but it’s why this website is taking up cyberspace. And what better moment to capture for the Orange seniors on Tuesday night? Ella Wimsatt, Sadye Porter, Josie Crawford and Blessiny Deronette truly deserve to play in Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh on Saturday at noon. And we’ll be there to broadcast it.

Hopefully, my lungs will have recovered by then.

We’re actually behind with our Magnificent 7, so we’re going back to the week of October 8-October 14 for this edition. We’ll play catch up once things start to slow down next week. Once again, these are the top performance aforementioned week in no particular order.

  1. Finn Kelly, Orange, Sr.: It was a strong week for Orange men’s soccer. The Panthers defeated Cedar Ridge 2-0 in the second leg of the Hillsborough Derby. Kelly, the Orange goalkeeper, may have had the best week of his career. He had a clean sheet against the Red Wolves, followed with another clean sheet against Person and earned the win against Eno River Academy on October 13.
  2. Rachel Alverson, Cedar Ridge, Sr: On her senior night, Alverson surpassed 1,000 career assists for the Cedar Ridge volleyball team as the Red Wolves defeated Walter Williams 3-0 in Hillsborough. Alverson finished with 35 assists against the Bulldogs as Cedar Ridge wrapped up second place in the Central Carolina Conference.
  3. Katie Silcott, Orange, Soph.: On her way to 1,000 career assists, Silcott wracked up 27 helpers as the Orange volleyball team defeated Eastern Alamance 3-0 in Mebane. Against Williams in Burlington, Silcott had 21 assists. Silcott is the younger Orange player ever to 1,000 assists.
  4. Naomi Dyreng, Cedar Ridge, Jr: Another strong finish for Dyreng in the NC Runners Elite Cross Country Invitational in Kernersville on October 14. In a field of 88 runners, Dyreng finished 13th with a time of 20:08.86. Cedar Ridge finished sixth as a team in a quality field of competitors.
  5. Erinn Sollars, Orange, Sr: Sollars won her final tennis match at Orange on October 10. She defeated Camila Rosa of Eastern Alamance 8-0 at #1 singles. Orange won the match 8-1 to end the dual match season with a winning record.
  6. Gabriel Schmid, Orange, Sr: Another strong finish for the Orange senior at the NC Runners Elite Cross Country Invitational. He finished second in a field of 153 runners. Only Dawson Reeves of Christ School finished ahead of Schmid. This weekend, Schmid will go for his second career individual state championship, also in Kernersville.
  7. Joseph Lopez, Orange, Jr.: Scored the game-winning goal for Orange soccer in the overtime win over Cedar Ridge. He followed that with a goal in the 6-0 win over Person.