It was a volleyball game worthy of being called a state championship. A game between two lofty, strong programs each unwilling to give up an inch of the floor to the other in their quest for the win. After about three hours and five gruelling sets, it was the Wirt County Lady Tigers finally taking the win in the West Virginia State Class A Volleyball Championships over the Tyler Consolidated Lady Knights in Charleston on Saturday.
The Lady Knights came into the game with a record of 36-14, and the distinction of having defeated the Tigers twice already this season. Wirt County brought their own impressive record of 37-13-4 to the court and the old saying of how difficult it is to defeat a team more than twice in a season. The field was set, officials were in place and fans were on the edge of their seats waiting for the contest of wills to begin.
The Lady Knights won sets one and four by scores of 25-20 and 25-19, but gave up two and three to the tune of 25-21 and 25-15 to the Tigers.
West Virginia Class A 2013 State Runners-up - Tyler Consolidated Lady Knights
In the fifth and final set, the Lady Knights had their Wirt County opponents on the ropes, down 11-9 with only four points to go to clinch the win and the state title. After tying the game at 11 and then grabbing the go ahead point, Wirt got a break on a called "out" (ball out of bounds) which turned the momentum of the game. Before the stunned crowd on hand knew what had happened, the Lady Tigers scored three points, securing the state title and leaving Tyler Consolidated to collect their second state runner-up title in as many years.
"The state tournament game is being called by many the greatest state tournament game in history," said Silver Knight head coach Richard Summers. "Our girls never quit fighting and it was two determined teams playing. Hats off to Wirt County. They had to deal with extreme adversity the past two seasons and came through it. Our girls are already focusing on making their own run again next year."
"Down the road the girls will realize what they have accomplished. I was on four very good high school basketball teams and we only made it to Charleston once. To make the state tournament and play for two state titles back to back is incredibly difficult to do."
Stats for the championship game for the Black and Silver include senior Megan Carpenter contributing 13 points (one ace), 18 kills, 12 blocks, and three digs; Sydney Reed adding two points, nine kills, four blocks; Sydney Yoho, two assists, two blocks; Bridget Matthews, six points (one ace), 15 kills, five blocks; Hilary Casteel, eight points (one ace), seven digs; Ariel Fish, 10 points, seven kills, five blocks, nine, digs; Carly Fletcher, 18 digs; Madison West, 10 digs; and Kerstyn Cline, five points (one ace, 38 assists and 15 digs).
The Class A All-Tournament team was named immediately following the game, with three Lady Knights, receiving honors: Kerstyn Cline, Bridget Matthews and Megan Carpenter.
The Lady Knights did not just skip and dance their way to the championship round, they had to earn it by getting past two very competent opponents, each of whom had their eye on the shiny prize at the end of the tournament as well.
In their first contest at the Civic Center on Friday morning, in front of a large hometown crowd in attendance, the Silver faced off with Charleston Catholic, sending them the short distance back home in three pretty quick sets, 25-19, 25-16 and 25-14.
"I was so proud of our student body and our community who provided tremendous support," the coach said. "School spirit is very much alive in Tyler County. A special thanks to the Tyler County Sheriff, Sistersville Police and the Fire Department for an incredible send off."
Carpenter was hot at the serving line against Catholic with 11 points (two aces), five kills, five blocks, and two digs; Reed chipped in nine points (two aces), nine kills, one block, and five digs; Sydney Yoho had two kills and three digs; Matthews scored four points, 10 kills, two blocks, and three digs; Casteel, nine points (one ace), 10 digs; Fish, 10 points, 11 kills, five blocks, seven digs; Fletcher, eight digs; West, six digs; and Cline contributed two points, 28 assists, and nine digs in the win.
About seven and-a-half hours later, on the same court, the Knights came up against the East Hardy Lady Cougars in the semi-finals, taking three of four sets to put them out of contention. The Knights took all but the third set in the match: 25-14, 25-10, 25-27 and 25-14.
Stats for the Silver Ladies in the contest include: Carpenter with two points, 10 kills, nine blocks and four digs; Reed 19 points (three aces), seven kills, two blocks and nine digs; Matthews, 14 points (five aces), nine kills, four blocks, six digs; Yoho, four kills, two blocks, one dig; Fish, eight points, six kills, four blocks, 18 digs; Casteel, 11 points (two aces), 20 digs; Fletcher, 22 digs; West, 12 digs; and Cline, five points, 12 digs.
In Class AA action at the tournament, Oak Glen achieved their third state title defeating Herbert Hoover, 25-18, 24-11 and 25-14. Musselman defeated Greenbrier East for the Class AAA title in three straight sets, 25-22, 25-14 and 25-16.
But the 2013 season is now complete for the Lady Knights. They fought the good fight, worked extremely hard all season, built their team anew from the bottom up and brought home the second best prize in the state. That they are second should matter to no one except those in the running for the state title next year in Charleston.
"At the start of the season I felt we would be a good volleyball team," coach Summers stated. "But few felt we could lose five good seniors and still compete for a state title. To have done so is a testament to the leadership we had coupled with an incredible work ethic. Without either of those we easily could have been an average volleyball team."
"The volleyball girls have such high expectations placed on them to play well, be good students, and represent themselves in a dignified manner. For them to be rewarded with this kind of success makes us extremely happy and proud. With a solid group returning I think they will continue to make Tyler County proud."
The 2014 volleyball season begins in August.