Class A net crown up for grabs

Five area teams are in the mix

Photo Provided Doddridge County’s volleyball team won the Class A, Region II championship on Saturday and will open state tournament play at 8:30 a.m. Friday versus fellow Little Kanawha Conference program Williamstown.

PARKERSBURG — A week ago Thursday in Elizabeth, the Parkersburg Catholic volleyball team of second-year head coach Amanda Weatherwax made sure there was going to be a new Class A state champion after the Crusaderettes eliminated Wirt County from the postseason.

Now, PCHS is one of eight teams to reach the state quarterfinals and that includes three other Little Kanawha Conference programs in Williamstown, Tyler Consolidated and Doddridge County, not to mention single-A power Magnolia (43-7-1).

“It was after 11 when we ended that game against Williamstown,” Weatherwax said of Saturday’s late regional title match victory against the rival Yellowjackets. “Three games in one week. It was about time we knocked them off.

“It was a tough battle like it always is. We had a lot of fun. Even though it was a late night, I was proud of how my girls stuck with it and kept battling every single point. It was fun to watch.”

Parkersburg Catholic, which will carry a 20-11 mark into the Charleston Civic Center when it faces Moorefield (24-8) at 1:30 p.m. Friday, lost the first two sets to Tolsia in the regional semifinal before storming back and taking the final three. That included a 15-13 fifth-set triumph. In the regional final, Williamstown led 2-1, but PCHS battled back to win set four and then a wild 17-15 set five.

Photos Provided The Parkersburg Catholic volleyball team, pictured here after defeating rival Williamstown late Saturday night in the Region IV championship match at Sherman, will take on Moorefield in a Friday afternoon Class A state quarterfinal match.

Lainie Ross (37 kills, 9.5 blocks), Aaliyah Brunny (33 kills, 11.5 blocks), Gracie Lowers (44 digs, six aces) and Jenna Boice (78 assists, seven aces) led the way for the youthful Crusaderettes in the regional at Sherman High School.

“I’m definitely pretty pleased with where we are at this point,” Weatherwax added. “With how we’ve progressed through the year steadily and I think we are at the right place and the right time hopefully.”

First on the court bright and early at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning will be the regional runner-up Yellowjackets of head coach Rachelle Cole. Williamstown (30-12-2) is set to square off against regional champ Doddridge County (18-23).

Williamstown, which has a plethora of hitting options that includes Bethany Arnold and Kayla Bauman, also features libero Gracie Graham and setter Lakyn Joy.

“It’s not the best time, but I mean it will be all right,” Cole said of playing right off the bat. “There are a lot of good teams here and we know that.”

Cole, now in her eighth year leading WHS, has the ‘Jackets back in the big dance for the seventh time and the senior class is making a fourth straight trip to Charleston.

“I think both teams played really well,” Cole said of the regional final. “I think we just had a few more mistakes when it came down to it and mistakes at crucial times.

“I told the girls they have to learn from it and if they don’t learn from it, it’s just a loss. If they learn from it, we can use that to push forward.”

Doddridge County head coach Kris Bonnell’s Bulldogs led 2-0 against Moorefield in the regional, but the Yellow Jackets forced a decisive fifth set, which turned out in favor of the gang from West Union, 15-11.

“My girls are peaking at the right time and as long as they stick to the game plan they will extend their winning streak,” stated the coach, who got 28 kills from Jasmine Ball, 21 downed spikes by Brooklyn Hinzman as well as 55 assists, four aces and as many kills from setter Courtney Sanford in the regional final.

“It was very exciting to capture the sectional and regional title. We don’t have the best record (18-23), but we had a tough schedule this season and made a lot of changes throughout. The girls have worked hard at practice and have improved tremendously as the season progressed as did their game play.”

Senior-laden Tyler Consolidated, which boasts six seniors for longtime head man Richard Summers, had to settle for section and regional runner-up honors in Region I to rival Magnolia.

“I have six good seniors with tons of experience,” noted Summers, who watched Josey Jones (24 kills, 18 digs), Alexa Johnson (28 kills), Emily Lancaster (18 kills) and JoLee Walton (68 assists) lead the way during their two regional matches. “Jones and Johnson will end their careers with 1,000 kills and Walton will have over 2,000 career assists, which is rare to have that on the same team.

“Our seniors know what to expect and realize if you don’t play well you lose. Half of the field is LKC and some of those not advancing would be contenders. As for the eight teams, I think it’s anyone’s to win. Last year, Wirt was odds on favorite. This year it could be whoever is peaking at the right time.”

TCHS, now 33-13 and at state for the seventh year in a row, will take on Greenbrier West (25-10-1) in the second morning contest.

Following the Crusaderettes’ match in the afternoon session, the Blue Eagles of head coach Pam Chapman will take to the floor and try to advance to the semifinals with a victory against Greater Beckley Christian.

“That is good news for us. We don’t play well in the morning,” quipped Chapman of having the last quarterfinal match. “We’ve tried to find a few things on them (GBC). I tried to talk to a lot of people, but not really a good scouting report.

“We’re just going to have to go play and see what happens, see what they are doing and we’ll have to make some adjustments.”

Teams have had a difficult time this season trying to slow down the Blue Eagles’ two-headed monster of Kyndra Pilant and Mady Winters, both of whom earned all-Ohio Valley Athletic Conference honors. In fact, the junior Pilant — the OVAC 3-A Player of the Year — had 44 kills and 34 digs in the two regional matches. Winters put 31 to the floor and had 32 digs, while setter Lenieca Grimm (78 assists) and libero Kayna Anderson (41 digs) continued to produce in their respective rolls.

“I think we know we are playing at the ability we know we can play at and the level we can play at,” Chapman added. “We started off real strong and the beginning of October, mid-October, we kind of hit that middle of the season plateau kind of deal and we’ve picked it back up.

“I think we are playing where we want to play and we can probably even play a little bit better in a few areas. I think, gosh, single-A, I think it’s tough. There’s not an easy match anyway you look at it.”

Friday’s Class A State Tournament

Schedule at Charleston Civic Center

    QUARTERFINALS

∫ 8:30 a.m.: Doddridge County (18-23) vs. Williamstown (30-12-2)

∫ 10:30 a.m.: Greenbrier West (25-10-1) vs. Tyler Consolidated (33-13)

∫ 1:30 p.m.: Parkersburg Catholic (20-11) vs. Moorefield (24-8)

∫ 3:30 p.m.: Magnolia (43-7-1) vs. Greater Beckley Christian

    SEMIFINALS

∫ 6:30 p.m.: DCHS/WHS winner vs. GWHS/TCHS winner

∫ 8:30 p.m.: PCHS/MHS winner vs. MHS/GBC winner

COMMENTS