PARKERSBURG - For the second consecutive year, Parkersburg High School will be the host site for the annual Mountain State Athletic Conference volleyball tournament.
Action is expected to get under way at 9 a.m. Saturday inside Memorial Fieldhouse as the 15-team tournament features three pools of five.
A year ago, the Big Reds advanced to the championship before having to settle for a runner-up finish after falling to Spring Valley in straight sets - 25-23 and 25-22.
Last weekend at the Huntington Invitational, head coach Carl Harnish's Big Reds knocked off George Washington by scores of 25-20 and 30-28 to win the title. Spring Valley, PHS, George Washington and Cabell Midland, which was swept by the Big Reds on Tuesday night, are the top contenders for the MSAC crown.
"I think our record isn't the best record, but I think the teams that get us in their pool won't like it," said coach Harnish. "We're kind of dangerous."
PHS, which will play in Pool 1, happens to have the defending MSAC champion Timberwolves in their pool along with Capital, St. Albans and South Charleston. The top two teams from each pool along with a pair of wild card teams will advance to the eight- team tournament.
George Washington also will play on the main court and is paired in Pool 2 along with Nitro, Ripley, Winfield and Princeton.
Pool 3, which will take place in the Jack Stephens Gymnasium, has Cabell Midland, Huntington, Hurricane, Woodrow Wilson and Riverside.
"I think we are going in the right direction," Harnish said of his team, which watched Imani Ward register 15 kills and Paige Warner a dozen in their win versus George Washington last Saturday. Also of note, the red and white only had a half dozen unforced errors versus GW.
"That's how we beat GW when we played," Harnish said of doing the little things. "Paige and Imani are hitting the ball hard and our defense is getting better. Our setting is getting a little bit better and we have to work on that."
Pool play matches will consist of two sets going to 25 with no cap. Tournament sets will be a best of three format.
The 9 a.m. pool play openers feature PHS versus Capital, Ripley versus Nitro and Huntington taking on Hurricane.