Hurricane tops Spring Valley at Snowball Invite

Parkersburg’s Shelby Roberts (13) and Grace West (16) go up for a double block during Saturday’s second annual Carl Harnish Snowball Invitational inside Memorial Fieldhouse. Photo by Jay W. Bennett

PARKERSBURG — Hurricane didn’t do it the easy way, but the Redskins of head coach Allie Pennington got it done when they needed to by knocking off Spring Valley 27-29, 25-14 and 15-10 to win the second annual Carl Harnish Snowball Invitational here Saturday night inside Memorial Fieldhouse.

“This group wants to win. They’ve been playing together for so long. They’re winners,” said Pennington, who got a finals match-high 17 kills from Brianna Washburn while fellow Redskins Madison Chadwell (match-high 28 assists) and Kiersten Landers (nine kills) earned all-tournament honors.

Washburn, last year’s Class AAA all-state captain of the second team, and Landers proved to be too much at the net for Spring Valley head coach Cadara Cole’s club, which was playing without second team all-state sophomore Alex Darby, who was out with an ankle injury. The Redskins (15-1-1) also had superb defense in the finals, which was aided by libero Carllee Bishop, who had eight points, an ace, five assists and two kills.

Host Parkersburg High School, which landed Shay-Lee Kirby on the all-tournament squad, fell to Hurricane in the semifinals by scores of 25-15 and 25-21. The Big Reds trailed 16-10 in the must-win second set after Big Red Grace West registered a kill. Amayah Lauer had a one-handed diving dig, which went across the net and hit the floor, to make it 20-19 and PHS tied it at 20-all following a Kirby service tally. However, Landers eventually secured match-point with a kill to end the Big Reds’ day. In the opening set, Washburn served for the final nine points, which included five aces.

In the opening set of the finals, Spring Valley libero Alexa Ball made a tough dig on a Landers blast, which led to setter Brooke Smith’s service point and a 22-21 cushion. Leading 23-22 following a Brooke Perry kill, the Timberwolves failed to score during a rally where they had two free ball chances. An attack error followed and Hurricane had a chance for set point up 24-23 after Washburn had a kill with Madison Chadwell toeing the service line.

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Ritchie County libero Cassie Tallman keeps the ball alive following an attack by Greenbrier East as Rebel teammate Kayla Holbrook (4) looks on during the quarterfinals of Saturday’s second annual Carl Harnish Snowball Invitational.

SVHS, though, squared it at 24 thanks thanks to a downed spike from Katie Beth Caudill.

The set continued to go back and forth with HHS regaining the lead at 25-24 following a Molly Backus kill, but downed spikes by Maggie Livingston and Caitlin Null put the Timberwolves back in front at 26-25. It appeared the Redskins had all the momentum after a service error and a Landers block gave them a 27-26 cushion, but Spring Valley got a sideout and then consecutive blocks by Livingston to take the first set.

Spring Valley, now 9-2-3 on the campaign, recorded just three service points in set two. An 8-2 spurt with the score even at five turned the tide in favor of Hurricane. It started with a Landers stuff and then back-to-back kills by Iliana Borrero with Maggie Niebur serving. Bishop had both a kill and an ace in the key run while Landers and Washburn continued to dominate up front. When Emily Poe served up an ace, Hurricane was in complete control up 20-9.

The Timberwolves’ lone lead in the third set came at 2-1 following an Ashley Gibson kill, but Washburn ended the title match with the final two kills. Smith finished with 24 assists in the finals. Livingston had 10 kills while Alexa Ball and Grace Sullivan had two aces apiece. The Timberwolves were ousted in consecutive 25-23 sets by Hurricane last Saturday in the semifinals of the Woodrow Wilson Invitational.

“Obviously, I hate to lose, but I’m glad we lost to a good team and we played hard,” said Big Red head coach Erin Thorpe. “We looked better today than we’ve looked all season and we can only get better.”

Class A Ritchie County, which competed against a field of all triple-A programs, bowed out in the quarterfinals to Greenbrier East by scores of 26-24 and 26-24. The Rebels, who landed libero Cassie Tallman on the all-tournament squad, led 24-21 in set one, but couldn’t finish. The Spartans, who had Haley McClure make the all-tournament team, rallied from 13-7, 15-10 and 22-20 deficits in set two.

The Rebels were paced by Tallman’s 12 digs as well as Brianna Jones’ four aces and nine assists versus Greenbrier East.