Volleyball regionals set for today

Parkersburg South senior Anna Ferguson spikes the ball during Class AAA sectional action inside Parkersburg’s Memorial Fieldhouse. The Patriots and the Big Reds will compete in tonight’s regional at Cabell Midland. Photo by Jay W. Bennett.

PARKERSBURG — Today represents the chance for volleyball programs across the Mountain State to punch their respective tickets to next week’s state tournament in Charleston.

The regional fields are set and defending state champions Wirt County (A), Philip Barbour (AA) and George Washington (AAA) are still alive.

Ravenswood and Tyler Consolidated are the nearest sites for volleyball fans to attend and catch some action.

At 6 p.m. today in Kidwell, the host Silver Knights will take on Madonna while fellow Little Kanawha Conference member Ritchie County squares off against Bishop Donahue. Each match is a best-of-five showdown and programs need just one win to advance, but regional champions will get to play a regional runner-up in the state quarterfinals at the Charleston Civic Center.

Macy Long’s 34 assists and Abbie Fletcher’s 17 kills helped pace Tyler Consolidated to a sectional championship versus Ritchie County, which was led by Samantha Kirk’s 15 kills and Lauren Strickland’s 10 blocks.

Wirt County libero Emily Cottrell serves for a point during Class A sectional action in Ravenswood. The defending state champion Tigers return to Ravenswood today with a berth in the state tournament on the line. Photo by Jay W. Bennett.

Longtime LKC rivals Wirt County and Williamstown begin play at 10 a.m. in Ravenswood. The ‘Jackets square off against Sherman in “The Pit” while the Tigers face sectional champion Tolsia in the girls gym.

“I think everyone knows that the strongest thing about our team is how many great hitters we have,” said Williamstown spiker Bethany Arnold, who was a member of the LKC champion Yellowjackets.

“I mean we obviously have an amazing setter (BreeAnn Reynolds) who will be greatly missed next year and our back row doesn’t let anything drop.”

Williamstown head coach Rachelle Cole is confident in her squad and figures another round of Yellowjackets versus Tigers could be in store early this afternoon for the regional crown.

“We have not played Sherman,” said the coach. “We’re just going to do our thing from here on out, no matter who we play. Crazy things can happen.”

Also still alive from the LKC are Class A sectional champion Gilmer County, which takes on Moorefield, as well as sectional runner-up Doddridge County. The Bulldogs, who will play host East Hardy, will join the Titans in today’s 11 a.m. regional.

Both Parkersburg and Parkersburg South are hoping to make the final weekend of the season. However, the Patriots face a tough task this evening at Cabell Midland as coach Becky Bennett’s squad takes on Spring Valley.

“They just have to get in their minds that they have the ability to do it and we’ve got to go out and give it everything they’ve got all the time,” Bennett admitted.

First-year PHS head coach Erin Thorpe’s Big Reds are 0-2-1 versus the host Knights, but are coming off a sweep of Parkersburg South in the sectional final thanks in part to senior Emily Casto’s season-high 14-kill performance.

“They’ve beat us every time we’ve played them,” Thorpe said of CMHS. “There are eight (Class AAA) teams in the state who are neck and neck. There is no team who has dominated.

“It’s certainly as much our shot as anybody else’s. If we beat them I think we’ll be sitting pretty, but we’ve got to get through them first. We have to lessen our errors, that’s the main thing. We’ve got to be tough on serves and we’ve got to get a little better at our blocking game. It’s our time.”