By Carl Holcomb
The Lady Cougars heard buzzing in their ears and swatted the Yellow Jackettes for their third straight Region II Volleyball Championship in three sets held in West Union last Saturday: 25-7, 25-10, 25-19.
Despite the carnage, East Hardy and Moorefield advance together to the state tournament in Charleston.
East Hardy makes its sixth consecutive state tournament trip and 11th in past 15 seasons to defend the state title, while the Yellow Jackettes travel to Charleston for fourth year in a row.
“The kids know how important it is to go in [state tournament] as winners snd it makes your first game easier. They wanted to win when they got here, so they did that and we’re proud of them. Inside three, they didn’t stop playing. They kept at it,” East Hardy Coach Marsha Hahn commented.[private]
This was the 225th career victory for East Hardy coach Marsha Hahn, but the team achieving goals is more important than personal accomplishments.
“I am happy to win today. It was a goal from the summertime for these girls to return to Charleston. When they show up and play, they can do it,” Coach Hahn stated.
Staying focused and working hard to achieve those goals takes practice and dedication which the Lady Cougars have proven to yield success.
East Hardy opened the initial set of the region championship on a 7-1 run with Abby Wilson smashing five kills off sets from Lexi Strawderman and Kenna Wicks delivering an ace.
Moorefield chipped away at the deficit with attacks by Lindsey Rinker and Rebekah Markwood.
The Lady Cougars responded with a point off a deflected hit from Emma Baker.
East Hardy’s Brooke Miller made an attack, but it was met with a dig by Moorefield’s Sydney Hardy and a pass from Kylie Crites to Anna Riggleman turned into a spike.
Strawderman earned the point back for the Lady Cougars with a dink and Miller notched two points as Markwood’s block went out and another by Rinker landed back into the net, 11-4.
Riggleman’s next attack was returned into the net, then Rinker made a block on Miller, who recovered to nudge the ball in a different angle to reach the floor.
East Hardy’s Julia Hahn made a dig on a volley by Riggleman, then Jessica Smith made a kill.
Miller recorded two points off sets from Strawderman, then Strawderman served an ace and another was launched back into the net for a 17-5 advantage before a timeout.
Miller made an attack and the Yellow Jackettes hit the ball four times, then Strawderman’s serve was hit back into the net.
Moorefield’s Alyssa Vetter created a point on an attack, then there was a service error.
Miller served an ace and the ensuing serve hit the net, 21-7.
An attack by Wilson was deflected out, then Wilson sandwiched two kills around an ace by Wicks to close the first set, 25-7.
East Hardy went up 7-1 again in the second set and extended the lead to 17-4.
Moorefield’s Hanna Carlson notched the first point of the set on a kill, then the Lady Cougars pounced.
Miller slammed the ball and delivered an ace, followed by three consecutive spikes by Wilson off assists from Strawderman.
Riggleman made a dig, then Rinker tapped the ball over the net and Hahn just missed it on a dive.
Rinker served and the ball was returned into the net, then Smith setup Hahn for a point off an attack.
Wicks served and Hardy made a dig, then Carlson pushed the ball over and it was defended by Baker and Strawderman passed to Wilson for the kill.
After a serve by Wicks was put back into the net, Wilson landed three spikes for a 13-3 advantage.
Markwood forced the ball past a block for a point, then her ensuing serve was met with a dig by East Hardy’s Sierra Miller flying over the net for a score.
Carlson volleyed out, then Hahn delivered an ace and Wilson made a couple of kills after digs by Gracie O’Neill and Riggleman on previous attacks.
Vetter and Miller swapped spikes, then a serve but Baker was deflected off a dig by Riggleman into the net.
East Hardy’s Cara Hinkle stepped in and made several passes to keep the action going.
Rinker made a block and it was deflected out.
Wilson denied a volley and crushed a spike to close out the set, 25-10.
The third set of the championship started with an ace by Miller and a kill by Wilson, then Rinker stretched to deny a volley as Wilson reached just over the net and her foot went underneath.
Wilson and Baker notched points on attacks for a 5-1 lead, then Rinker blocked a shot and served up an ace.
Wilson landed a volley just in front of a dive by Hardy, then the next shot went just beyond the line.
Markwood served and the ball was deflected out, followed by a spike by Carlson to close the gap 7-6.
O’Neill made a dig on an attack by Wilson, but Wilson redirected the next volley for a point.
Miller sandwiched kills around an attack by Carlson for a 10-7 lead.
The Lady Cougars had several attacks go awry, then Riggleman made a kill and Crites executed a dig for a point to give Moorefield a 12-10 lead.
East Hardy evened the set with kills by Miller, coming after digs by Hardy and Riggleman.
An attack by Miller was met with a carry, then Markwood launched a kill.
Riggleman served into the net, then Rinker made a dink, 14-all.
Markwood made dig and a volley by Carlson was put back into the net.
Vetter served and Wilson created a point off a block attempt by Rinker.
Carlson notched a point, then made a block which was saved on a dig by Hahn and an attack by Wilson turned into a violation on defense by Moorefield getting too close to the net.
There were several errors both ways, then an ace by Wilson.
Riggleman made a block on Miller and saved it, then Wilson hit the ball over and it was deflected into the net.
Baker served for a point and Miller did a push attack to garner another marker, 22-18.
Crites made a save and Riggleman volleyed over for a point, but East Hardy answered with a kill by Miller and a serve by Strawderman was hit into the net before winning the match with an ace, 25-19.
“It’s pretty great, great to go back. We just have a goal to get back to that game and we are working for that goal,” East Hardy senior Lexi Strawderman remarked.
East Hardy will face Greenbrier West in the opening round of the state volleyball tournament this Friday morning and the Yellow Jackettes will battle Greater Beckley Christian in the afternoon.
“It’s exciting for both of us to represent Hardy County,” Moorefield Coach Morgan Hill-See said.[/private]