Ritchie, Wirt to play for Class A title
CHARLESTON — Little Kanawha Conference programs Ritchie County and Wirt County will collide at 9:30 a.m. today inside the Charleston Civic Center with the victor earning the Class A state volleyball championship.
The Rebels ousted defending state champ East Hardy in the semifinals — 25-22, 27-25, 25-17 — and closed out Williamstown seniors Sklyar Watson and Tori Tadlock’s career by defeating the Yellowjackets 19-25, 25-15, 25-19, 17-25 and 15-11 in the quarterfinals.
Wirt County, which is seeking its 11th overall state net crown while the Rebels are going for their third, breezed past Greater Beckley Christian in the semifinals by scores of 25-20, 25-15 and 25-12 in a match which lasted just 54 minutes. The Tigers lost the opening set of their quarterfinal match versus Tyler Consolidated, 23-25, but won the next three — 25-18, 25-22 and 25-14.
“We are not playing well, lots of mental errors and just not focused on what they are supposed to do,” said Tiger head coach Janet Frazier of her 47-3-3 program following the triumph against GBC, which couldn’t take advantage of 10 orange and black service errors.
“You can’t miss that many serves and expect to go very far. I mean, I’m very happy with where we are. They know they are not playing well. I don’t think it’s a lack of effort, but they’ve just got to learn to focus a little harder.”
Ritchie County head coach Matt Carpenter’s squad, which will carry a 31-12-2 mark into today’s title tilt, secured match point when Abi Haught got a left-handed kill from one of setter Brianna Jones 25 assists.
“That was pretty good, wasn’t it,” quipped Carpenter after the match. “It feels great to have a shot. We’ve worked so hard all season wanting to put ourselves in this situation and now we’re here. We know it’s going to take a special effort to beat Wirt. We are one of the people who put a blemish on their record.
“We know that we can beat them, but we know that we are going to have to play at a high, high level. Janet does an exceptional job as she always has here at the state tournament. She’s renowned for her state titles. We’re hoping to give them a run.”
Rebel Kenda Osborne joined Haught in securing 10 kills. It’s the sixth straight match Osborne has either led or tied for the team lead in downed spikes. East Hardy’s Abby Wilson produced a match-high 14 kills and teammate Brooke Miller registered a pair of aces and six kills. The Rebels also got solid efforts from libero Cassie Tallman (19 digs) and Lauren Strickland (one ace, four kills, 13 digs).
The Crusaders had no answer for Tiger Haley Moore, who had a match-high 20 kills, or Kylie Stephens (17 kills). Setter Katie Frazier added two kills and 36 assists while Taylor Anderson had four aces and 13 digs. GBC was led by Abby Hill’s six kills and Regan Hogan’s four aces and eight assists.
Tyler Consolidated concluded its season at 22-18-2 as Alexa Johnson (16 kills), JoLee Walton (30 assists), Josey Jones (nine kills, 12 digs), Emily Lancaster (four kills, five blocks) and Cora Grimm (14 digs) led the way. However, just like GBC, the Silver Knights couldn’t slow down Moore, who had 29 kills. Stephens put down 14 kills while the Tigers also got production from Loden Campbell (four kills, eight blocks) as well as four aces apiece by Alexis Petrovsky and Frazier.
“It’s going to be tough,” coach Frazier said of winning the Tigers’ second state title in three years. “We knew Tyler was going to be tough and we know Ritchie is going to be tough. They know us so well. We’re just going to give it our best shot.”
Osborne had 14 kills versus the Yellowjackets, whose defense allowed 14 aces to the Rebels. Tallman (24 digs), Jones (28 assists), and Abi Haught, who almost double-doubled with 11 kills and nine digs, led the way.
Following the single-A state title match, Philip Barbour will go for its third consecutive Class AA crown when the Colts take on Winfield.
The final match of the day will pit defending Class AAA state champion Musselman against Spring Valley. Triple-A favorite George Washington was upset in the quarterfinals by Hedgesville — 15-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-23 and 15-12.