PARKERSBURG - Host Parkersburg will be out to defend its title from a year ago when the 38th annual Snowball Invitational gets underway at 9 a.m. Saturday inside Memorial Fieldhouse.
Last fall, the Big Reds defeated Cabell Midland in straight sets to win the championship. In 2011, George Washington was crowned champion.
The field is comprised of 10 teams this year as opposed to the normal dozen. Only nine varsity teams are playing as Pool B will consist of defending Class A state champion Williamstown along with Parkersburg South, George Washington, Magnolia and the Big Reds' junior varsity squad (PHS White).
Parkersburg head coach Carl Harnish's pool features Wheeling Park, Woodrow Wilson, Doddridge County and defending Class AA state runner-up Ritchie County.
In an effort to give the tournament a faster pace, three courts are going to be used. Teams will play upstairs on two courts and also downstairs on one court in the Jack Stephens Gymnasium.
During pool play, squads only will go for two sets to 25 with no cap. The worst team in each pool will be eliminated and the top four squads from each pool will advance to the tournament quarterfinals. All of those matches will be the best-of-three sets to 25, also with no cap.
The opening matches of the day will be Parkersburg versus Doddridge County and Williamstown against the PHS junior varsity squad upstairs. In the JSG, Ritchie County will take on Wheeling Park.
A trio of teams - Parkersburg South, George Washington and Ritchie County - will be tested stamina-wise and play three consecutive matches during pool play.
Magnolia head coach Pam Chapman, whose Blue Eagles were ousted last year in the single-A state semifinals by Williamstown, is anxious for Saturday to get here.
"This is going to be our first tournament," said the coach. "It will be nice to see some different teams and some other good competition.
"I think we'll probably find out a little bit more this weekend where we stand as a team. I'm excited for it and it will give us a little better view of where we are at and where we need to be come end of the season time."
Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students.