CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — It is the beginning of postseason pandemonium in southern west Virginia, as Wednesday, November 9, 2022 kicks off a week’s worth of playoff action.
The last local team still left standing in the state tournament.
The Tigers are no strangers to the spotlight, they have not lost a first-round set in the last two years and they did not plan to start on Wednesday took on the eight-seeded Frankfort.
Frankfort showed no signs of life and Shady was ready to break out the brooms and complete the sweep. The Tigers took all the momentum into the next round.
“I think this entire state volleyball tournament swings on momentum, if you watch any of these courts whichever of these teams that is up at that moment is the team that is winning or coming back you never let your guard down and you play for every point that you earn,” said Kelly Williams, the Tigers head volleyball coach.
They carried that momentum right into the next round.
“That first game against Frankfort we were a little slow, definitely the nerves were getting us, but we came out and took care of business,” said Williams.
The Tigers did not come into the semifinals with the same jitters, as they tried to take a different approach to a tournament they are all but a staple of.
“We’ve been really focusing on just trying to just have the experience and just enjoying everything and enjoying volleyball which is the sport that we love,” said Williams.
They had some unlikely help to get into a good mood, many might not know this but at tournaments like this, teams will often share locker rooms, which is how the Tigers met the Williamstown Yellow Jackets.
“Well you know they don’t, we actually just met them in the locker room so we got put with them, and they had a dance party with them and it was a great thing to see,” said Williams.
It was a game of fours for the tigers, as they played for a chance at their fourth straight trip to the state championship, with the only thing standing in their way being the fourth matchup against the huskies in the last week.
“We don’t have secrets they don’t have secrets we know a lot about each other and whenever we play each other we have such a great game kudos to Herbert Hoover,” said Williams.
The Tigers did what they do best, crowd the net, set up aggressive attacks, and sent the ball through the floorboards. Of course, they did a bit of sweeping as well, shutting out Herbert Hoover.
While this is something they are used to accomplishing, Williams wanted her team to remember just how important this is.
“We are blessed to be here and you try to tell them how lucky they are and there are a thousand girls who would love to be where they are and just to play for each and every point and give everything they have and leave it all on the floor,” said Williams.
The Tigers get a night to rest, and they are the last game of the day on Thursday, November 10, 2022. This gives them the time to get in the zone, cheer on their newfound best friends from Williamstown in the Class A championship, and maybe even have another locker room dance party.
On Thursday, the Tigers take on Philip Barbour for the third time in the state championship.
Things got started bright and early Thursday morning with Woodrow Wilson and Greenbrier West, and then shortly after the James Monroe Mavericks took to the court.
The Greenbrier West Cavaliers came into the tournament as the four seed, going up against number five Moorefield.
Head Coach Cynthia Nutter and her squad looked to get out to a hot start bright and early out in Charleston. The Cavs want to break out of the first round, a place in the playoffs they know all too well.
They are quick to strike on the attack while doubling down on their kills, but their stamina only lasts so long. In both the first and second set they lost their lead and dropped the set.
With their season on the line they came out firing once again, but it would be Moorefield who got the last laugh, as they hand the Cavs an early exit from the postseason.
Another team who wanted to take things further into the day was the Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles, who have not seen the semifinals since 2018.
The Flying Eagles know this is their year, and they set out to prove it, after falling in the first round the last two years, they did everything in their power to try and break the pattern.
Standing in their way was number five Bridgeport. Woodrow waivers in the first set, not able to keep up with the aggressive attack. For every attack Beckley put together, Bridgeport brought out a kill. This was apparent in the third set, as Bridgeport came from behind to take it.
Down two to one, Beckley was in a familiar spot, but they did not go down without a fight.
Freshman Zoie Vance had a big day after Emily Gallaher went down early due to an injury.
The fifth set, 15 points to move on. Bridgeport came out quickly to build a substantial lead,
Beckley was not done yet, as they put together a late run to make things close. But they could not hold out any longer and fall in the first round once again.
Holding back her emotions, Head Coach Bre Rhodes talks about what she felt in those final moments.
“It just hurts, I knew they could do it, I knew this team could go all the way but you know those points fell, unfortunately, the wrong way, but you know I just hate it for the seniors,” said Bre Rhodes, the Woodrow Wilson Volleyball head coach.
Wrapping up the early games was the number six James Monroe mavericks, up against number three Ritchie County.
The Mavericks found themselves as the underdogs in the Class A bracket, and they came into the first set with a chip on their shoulder.
Things were neck and neck in the first set, all knotted up at 18, but a few critical bounces gave the round to the Rebels.
The Mavericks’ defense did all it could to block out Ritchie County, but their attack was too much, and the Rebels go up two to nothing.
In the third set, the Mavs played for their lives. A fight that would only last so long, and the Mavericks fell in three.
Despite the outcome, head coach Julie Bradley said her team should appreciate all it took to get here and take it in while they are.
“It means everything to those girls and Monroe county. Monroe county loves to get to the state tournament and they celebrate and they treat us right when we are there. They didn’t quit, they got a little frustrated but they didn’t quit they wanted to show everybody they appreciate their support,” said Bradley.
No matter the outcome, no one can take away how hard these squads worked to get there.