Paden City defeats Ritchie County, claims first ever state berth
KIDWELL — The time has come.
For the first time in program history, the Paden City volleyball team is heading to the state tournament.
The Wildcats punched their ticket on Saturday morning at Tyler Consolidated by sweeping Madonna 25-10, 25-18 and 26-4 in a Class A, Region I semifinal.
They followed that up with the school’s first regional title with a 25-23, 25-21, 25-18 sweep of Ritchie County.
“This is very exciting to be the first team to be able to do that,” Paden City coach Jennifer Yeater said of clinching a berth in the state tournament. “It will be nice to represent the green and white.
“We set a goal in the summer and we worked very hard and it’s just one more thing we checked off our list. I’m proud of them. They worked hard and fought for every point. They just wanted it.”
Paden City set a school record for wins in a season with the victory (34-4), breaking a record held by the 2012 squad, led by former coach Fred King.
“Ever since we got coach Jennifer (Yeater) last year we’ve been really working hard to get to state,” second team all-stater and former OVAC Player of the Year Hope Weber said. “It’s been a goal for us all season. It’s crazy that we never made it before so the fact that we are the first team is amazing. We are like a family. We’re all sisters.”
The Wildcats prevailed against the Rebels in the sectional final, as well, but no stage was bigger than Saturday’s.
“We knew what they had,” Yeater said. “We just needed to capitalize on our strengths and take advantage anytime they were down.” After both teams earned the trip to Charleston with semifinal wins, both the Rebels and Wildcats went back-and-forth in the first set of the regional championship.
With the score deadlocked at 14-14, Paden City managed to secure a one-point edge to send Tanley McEldowney behind the service line. She rattled off four straight points to increase the margin to 19-14.
Although, the Rebels clawed back to knot the set at 23-23, a Brandis Dairymple kill put the Wildcats back on top and they finished it on the next serve.
Paden City never trailed in the second set as Weber garnered a kill for a 24-21 lead and she supplied the final point to go up 2-0 in the match.
“We worked harder than we needed to in that second set,” Yeater said. “We needed to bring our energy level up a bit there but we got the job done.”
The only lead Ritchie saw in the third set was a brief 1-0 upper hand. Mallory Yeater put an end to that quickly as she reeled off five consecutive points and the Wildcats never looked back.
After another Weber kill flipped the score to 24-18, Maggi Still delivered a perfect assist to Mallory Yeater, who recorded the final kill and sent the Paden City bench and fans into a raucous celebration.
“It was a team effort (Saturday),” Weber said. “Everybody stepped up when they needed to and got the job done. We had some big blocks from Brandis. Everybody just chipped in.”
Despite falling in the regional title, Ritchie coach Matt Carpenter is thrilled to have his team heading back to state.
“We’re really excited to be going back to state,” Carpenter said. “We’re really trying to get healthy right now but we’re excited to be going back. Paden City is very fundamental in what they do.
“They get the ball to their hitters very well and seem to be very, very well coached. You can’t take anything away from them. They cover well, they play together well and it’s impressive to watch them play.”