Yellowjacket netters take sectional

Williamstown’s Bethany Arnold, pictured here spiking the ball during Thursday’s Class A, Region IV, Section 1 championship match at Ravenswood, celebrated her 16th birthday with her teammates during a Yellowjacket four-set victory against Wirt County. WHS setter BreeAnn Reynolds covers behind on the play. Photo by Michael Uhl.

RAVENSWOOD — Defending Class A state champion Wirt County got the victory it needed versus Parkersburg Catholic, but it was Williamstown which claimed the Class A, Region IV, Section 1 championship here Thursday evening at “The Pit” as the Yellowjackets turned back the Tigers, 19-25, 25-21, 25-13 and 25-16.

“We were automatically in there (Saturday’s regional) so I think that’s why we had a rough start,” admitted Bethany Arnold, who celebrated her 16th birthday in style. “I’m just glad we got the win and we can move on from here.”

Moving on is exactly what the 44-10 Yellowjackets of head coach Rachelle Cole did as WHS is set to take on Sherman at 10 a.m. in “The Pit” while Wirt County will face off against sectional champion Tolsia, also at 10 a.m., but in the girls gym for the regional title and a shot at advancing to next week’s state tournament.

“I mean, I guess we just got to do what we do and win it and go on from there,” added Arnold, who finished with eight kills, two blocks and a dig.

BreeAnn Reynolds finished with 28 assists and 15 digs. Williamstown received a match-high 17 digs from Nellie King and a team-best 21 kills from Brooke Stewart, who chipped in a match-high six blocks. Libero Skylar Watson added 14 digs for the Yellowjackets, who also received a solid all-around performance from Courtney Dotson (14 kills, 13 digs, three blocks).

“We didn’t start out too strong, but I think it was just kind of like we knew Wirt was warm and we weren’t really,” Cole said. “We didn’t really practice much yesterday (Wednesday) because of the late night on Tuesday (beating Wirt County in five sets) and I think they just came out slow and then they kicked it into gear.”

Wirt County, which like the ‘Jackets just needs a regional semifinal triumph on Saturday to advance to state, never trailed in the opening set. WHS was called for being in the net and it was 3-0 after Haley Moore and Loden Campbell registered down spikes from setter Katie Frazier’s match-high 45 assists. A kill by Taylor Anderson gave the Tigers (34-12-1) a 19-14 cushion and forced a WHS timeout, but it was 20-14 right after that thanks to a Danielle Lynch service tally. Later on, Kylie Stephens added a pair of kills and Moore’s kill gave the orange and black the first set in the best-of-five match.

Another downed spike by Moore, who had a match-high 29, gave teammate Mahala Greenleaf a service tally and Wirt County a 13-12 lead in set two. Frazier served for three straight points, including an ace, to push the advantage to 17-13 and it looked like the Tigers were on their way to forcing a second title match. From that point on, the ‘Jackets scored 12 of the final 16 points as a kill by King was followed by consecutive Stewart downed spikes to start the run. A smashing kill by Stewart following a bad pass from the Tigers gave WHS the lead at 19-18 and Wirt County called timeout. Arnold’s kill with Tori Tadlock toeing the service line upped the ‘Jacket cushion to 21-19 and Dotson’s kill made it a best-of-three affair.

Back-to-back kills by Skyler Chancellor helped Williamstown get going in the pivotal third set. Wirt County, which also got 10 kills from Stephens and six from Campbell, had seven attack and one service error as WHS raced out to a 12-4 cushion and never looked back.

Williamstown tallied the first six points of the final set behind Watson’s serving and Dotson dominating the front. Tiger Maggie Bailey’s ace later cut the gap to 18-11, but the ‘Jackets won going away and got match point on a service error.

Parkersburg Catholic’s campaign ended at 25-22 following a 25-7, 25-12 and 25-16 loss to Wirt County. Lone Crusaderette senior Abby Witucky had eight digs, five kills, four assists and a block. PCHS also received five digs from Ari Nedeff along with five assists and four kills from Liv Ullman. Gracie Lowers had a match-high 12 digs in the setback.

Stephens (22 kills) and Moore (17) led the Tiger hit parade in the first match of the evening. Frazier had 44 assists and Emily Cottrell had 11 digs and a match-high 25 service points.