Tuesday is going to be quite a day for Polk County athletics.
Titanic Tuesday? Throwdown Tuesday? Almost deserves a nickname.
A pair of Wolverine squads will face the biggest challenge yet to their unbeaten records. Polk County’s volleyball team will travel to Brevard for a Mountain Foothills 7 Conference showdown while the Wolverine girls tennis squad hosts four-time defending state champion Hendersonville, also for a conference matchup.
The Polk netters enter Tuesday’s match with a 4-0 record, fresh off a 9-0 sweep of Brevard, their second straight perfect outing. The Bearcats are 7-0 and have posted 9-0 wins in six of their seven matches.
Polk County head coach Tracy Becker is well aware of the exam that awaits in facing what’s become the best 2A program in the state. The Bearcats return the top five players from the team that defeated Raleigh Charter 5-4 in last season’s state final.
“Last year we were able to get a few games off of them, but it wasn’t enough,” Becker said. “I told my girls that it’s going to be a tough match. We need to play mentally strong and take it point by point. Nothing fancy, just keep making the shot.”
The Wolverines also have plenty of returning experience; all six singles starters were part of the team last season. Tali Thompson, Mia Wolfe and Allie Quoyle are each undefeated thus far in the 4-5-6 singles positions while the top three – Bella Sheffron, Sarah Vitale and Elizabeth Vitale – each have just one loss.
There will be an air of familiarity around the Polk courts on Tuesday, given the number of returnees and the fact some of the players on both sides practice together in the offseason. At the same time, enough lineup movement has happened, at least on Polk’s side, that the match won’t merely be a repeat of 2022.
“This is a high probability our girls will have a different opponent this time around,” Becker said. “We’ve come a long way since last year. We’re looking forward to welcoming them to Polk on Tuesday.”
Brevard’s volleyball team took two of three meetings a year ago with Polk County and reached the 2A West Regional final before losing 3-1 to eventual state champion McMichael. The Blue Devils own a 13-2 mark this season, the losses coming during a recent weekend tournament to Kings Mountain and West Henderson.
Polk County will head to Brevard with a 13-0 record that includes just one dropped set this season, that coming in the second week of the season at Asheville Christian Academy. Among the teams that the Wolverines have swept since include A.C. Reynolds, T.C. Roberson, Crest and West Henderson in addition to all league foes.
But Brevard, especially in Brevard, will be a test unlike any Polk has faced to date. It should be a great start to what could well be another trilogy, with the teams meeting on Oct. 12 at Polk and then possibly again in the MF7 tournament.
AT THE TOP: Speaking of volleyball, the Max Preps Adjusted Ratings have been released and Polk County currently is ranked atop the 1A West ratings.
The Wolverines sit in the first spot ahead of undefeated Highland Tech and Cornerstone Charter. Grey Stone Day and Uwharrie Charter round out the top five as charter schools hold six of the top seven spots. Rosman, at No. 8, is the next public school.
By being assured of finishing the season with a .500 record or better, Polk County has already secured an automatic playoff berth and will be seeded with conference champions in the playoffs. If the Wolverines can maintain that No. 1 rating, Polk would be at home in the state playoffs for as long as it wins.
The Wolverines have faced the second-toughest schedule in the 1A West field, and that rating should only jump this week with the games against Brevard (13-2).
The Polk boys soccer team currently sits 19th in 1A West. The North Carolina High School Athletic Association has the Wolverine football squad still listed in the 2A ratings, but its current RPI of 0.42950 would place the Wolverines 23rd in the 1A West list. There are only 36 schools that will be ranked once Polk is listed for the 32 available postseason berths.
The NCHSAA is also using RPI for the first time this year with girls tennis, and Polk County is listed with the 2A schools. But the Wolverines are shown as the top team in 2A West, so expect the Wolverines to be high on the 1A list once that correction is made.
PRACTICE WOES: Heat and thunderstorms have made practice an adventure thus far this season for Polk County’s football team.
The Wolverines are hoping for a quiet few days this week as they prepare for Friday’s MF7 match against Hendersonville. That would be a change from the first half of the season.
“It feels like four straight weeks where we’ve had to deal with not getting a true full week of practice where we can be on the grass,” noted Polk County head coach Dustin Fry prior to Friday’s 57-12 rout of Patton. “It’s been weird having to travel to practice (to an indoor facility) or having to go in the gym.”
One thing that Fry and team will no doubt continue to address this week in practice is the penalties that have plagued the Wolverines this season. That said, there were a LOT of flags being thrown in Friday’s game, with the two teams unofficially flagged a combined 21 times.
That includes one sequence in the third quarter where there were four flags thrown in four plays, those for a face mask (Polk), pass interference (Polk), holding (Patton) and illegal procedure (Patton).
WEAVER ON THE FIELD: Former Polk County standout Angus Weaver hit the field Saturday for Lenoir-Rhyne in the Bears’ 62-0 win over Erskine.
Weaver took the field as part of Lenoir-Rhyne’s kickoff team. Former Polk County basketball coach Lemont Jones captured the moment – Weaver is wearing number 40 and is next to the kicker in this clip:
Another former Wolverine, Steven Chupp, was recently named one of the Bears’ scout team players of the week.