Carpenter captains AA all-state netters

Philip Barbour junior McKenzie Carpenter, pictured here during a match at Williamstown earlier this year, helped the Colts to their third consecutive Class AA state volleyball crown and for her efforts she was honored as captain of the all-state first-team. Photo by Jay W. Bennett.

CLARKSBURG — For sisters McKenzie and Maddi Carpenter, it’s been quite a journey the past three volleyball seasons, as they have been key cogs in Philip Barbour’s three-straight Class AA volleyball titles.

This season, they were more than just key cogs, they were the engine thrusters to the Colts’ 45-11 record and 2017 state title.

While just a junior, McKenzie Carpenter made her mark at the net, putting down 678 kills while scoring 209 times on blocks. She also led the team in digs.

Her dominating play was the difference in the Colts’ three matches in Charleston that secured the title, and for her efforts, she was named the captain of the 2017 West Virginia Sports Writers Association All-State Volleyball Team.

“Winning three straight titles, winning the last one with my sister in her final match and now this (being named captain), it means so much,” the 5-foot-11 Carpenter said. “All that hard work we put out really shows now.

“It’s just overwhelming.”

Carpenter was Class AA’s top vote-getter, and Maddi Carpenter was right behind. No wonder the Colts were able to pull out another title.

“They are two very special young women,” PB coach Heather Halfin said. “McKenzie can just be so dominating and Maddi is a great setter and a great all-around player as well.

“We will definitely miss Maddi next year.”

Maddi Carpenter came up with 1,246 assists and was also in on 162 blocks when she was on the front line defense. She also had a team-high 80 aces.

The Colts’ arch-rival, the Bridgeport Indians, also placed two players on the first unit.

They are junior hitter Kristen Crowder and junior setter Payton Hefner.

The duo led the Indians to the AA semifinals before falling to PB in a five-set thriller. Bridgeport also handed state runner-up Winfield its only regular season blemishes, a loss and a tie, ironically at the Philip Barbour Tournament in mid-September.

Crowder, despite missing 16 percent of the season with a concussion, led the Indians with 478 kills. She also accumulated 137 digs and 28 blocks.

Hefner assisted teammates on an astounding 1,354 kills. She also led the team with 112 aces and stood out on the back row as well with 199 digs.

Winfield placed senior setter Autumn Elswick on the first team. Elswick was a main reason the Generals posted a 41-2-1 record for the season, as she had more than 400 assists, and topped the 250 mark in digs while recording more than 100 aces.

Rounding out the first team are Frankfort’s Claire Howell, Robert C. Byrd’s Hayley Swiger, Nicholas County’s Anna Hamilton, Oak Glen’s Alexis Swan and James Monroe’s Gracie Mann.

Howell came through with nearly 400 kills for the Falcons and had more than 200 digs, leading Frankfort to the state tournament quarterfinals.

Swiger, a second-team selection in 2016, led the Flying Eagles to the state quarterfinals. She ended the season with 366 kills, 180 digs and and 34 blocks.

Hamilton led the Grizzlies to the regional semifinals, where they were ousted by Robert C. Byrd. The 6-foot-1 hitter recorded 379 kills, 205 blocks and 122 digs.

Swan made the first unit for the third straight season, as she led the Golden Bears to the regional semifinals where they lost to Philip Barbour in five sets.

Swan, a senior middle hitter, had 273 kills and 119 blocks.

Mann led James Monroe to the state semifinals before falling to Winfield. Despite being just 5-foot-3, Mann came up with 333 kills, while also recording 306 digs.

Winfield’s Taylor Ritz, a junior outside hitter who topped the 225 mark in kills and had more than 300 digs, heads the second unit as the captain.

Quarterfinalist Shady Spring placed junior outside hitter Brooklyn Cook on the second unit, as she came up with 227 kills for the Tigers.

The remainder of the second unit consists of Robert C. Byrd’s Abby Wetzel, Frankfort’s Cait Davis, Herbert Hoover’s Mallori Chapman, James Monroe’s Jessica King, Nitro’s Kayla Gunnoe, Petersburg’s Marissa Earle, Bridgeport’s Shea Hefner and Sissonville’s Sarah Ball.

Wetzel, a junior hitter, had 414 kills for RCB, while Davis — a senior spiker for the Falcons — produced more than 300 kills and had 270 digs.

Chapman, a senior libero had 507 digs, while King topped the 300-mark in both kills and digs for the Mavericks.

Gunnoe, a senior setter/outside hitter, had more than 900 career digs for Nitro, while Earle, a senior outside hitter, had a fine all-around season with 84 aces, 146 kills, 100 assists and 174 digs.

Hefner, just a freshman, led Bridgeport with 273 digs, and was second on the team with 426 kills. She also recorded 101 aces.

Ball, a senior libero/setter, had 397 digs for Sissonville and 82 aces.