By Carl Holcomb
The Yellow Jackettes buzzed into the state volleyball tournament quarterfinal match and played aggressive defense, but Greater Beckley Christian found the seams to rip open a victory in three sets: 25-15, 25-21 and 25-12.
“The key was getting over the jitters in the first game of this stage and getting used to the balls and this environment. Working on our fundamentals, getting our serves in and moving on defense,” Greater Beckley Christian Coach Tracie Fisher commented.[private]
“I thought as well as they [MHS] played defensively, they didn’t put up a block very often. Our hitters were able to capitalize on that a lot, but they played a great defense. I was surprised how well they moved and played on the court. We just had to find their weaknesses and work around that. This is our third visit in four years and this is the first time we’ve made it out of the first round. We’re pretty excited.”
Moorefield had lots of energy and excitement with fans cheering above court number one including the coach’s daughter Darah decorated with face paint and blue and gold bows in her hair as all three classes competed simultaneously in the Charleston Civic Center.
There was a large cooler with a chocolate milk sponsor label as the team entered the court and freshman Gracie O’Neill was very excited to see it, but disappointed to find out it was only water prior to the match.
The Lady Crusaders quenched their thirst with a 4-0 lead to begin the opening set with three kills coming from Abigail Hill even with several digs by Moorefield’s Kylie Crites and Sydney Hardy in that stretch.
After errant volleys out from both sides, Lindsey Rinker served an ace for the Yellow Jackettes and Greater Beckley Christian responded during the next serve with a spike by Hill, 5-2.
Hill and her teammates gathered to celebrate points from the kills made.
Riggleman made a save off a hit by Hill, but it never cleared the net.
Courtney Green served an ace for the Lady Crusaders, then Moorefield countered with a push kill by Hanna Carlson.
During Rebekah Markwood’s serve, Crites made a dig and a volley from Carlson went just beyond the line.
The Lady Crusaders served out of bounds, then Carlson served and a dig was made by Hill and Lydia Jordan made a kill.
Hardy created a dig with an attack coming from Anna Riggleman, but the ball was returned for a spike by Jordan.
After a hitting violation by the Yellow Jackettes, Jordan slammed the ball twice and two more hits came off deflections on block attempts by Rinker, 14-5.
An error by Greater Beckley Christian and a dink by Rinker cut the deficit to 14-7.
Markwood and Alyssa Vetter made pushes, but Greater Beckley Christian defended the attacks and answered with kills by Hill to build an 18-7 lead.
Vetter garnered a kill and served an ace for the Yellow Jackettes before Hill countered with two push kills.
Riggleman made a dig, then Markwood launched an attack off a pass from Crites and it was returned into the net, 20-10.
After a point by Morgan Brooks, Jordan touched the net defending an attack by Carlson.
Hardy came up with a dig and Rinker passed to Carlson for a kill, but Hill sent one right back, 22-12.
A serve by Hill sailed out of bounds, then Carlson’s serve couldn’t be corralled for a return with four touches.
Carlson went back to the service line and delivered an ace for a 22-15 score.
An error and two kills from Jordan closed out the first set win for the Lady Crusaders, 25-15.
“We’re proud to make it here. We dropped it in three, so that is a little heartbreaking. We didn’t play to the ability we could have. The one game was a close game. These younger girls see it now and see what we need to work on for next year if this is a place they want to get back to. Kylie Crites has had a great four years and we’re grateful we could bring her back here to end her senior career here. You always find a positive, nobody likes to lose. You come down here and are surrounded by good teams and you need to play up to that level. We have to step it up a couple notches if we make it back here,” Moorefield Coach Morgan Hill-See stated.
Vetter’s attack went a little too far to open the second set, but a dig by Hardy and pass from Crites setup Markwood for a point.
Vetter served an ace for a 2-1 edge for the Yellow Jackettes, but Brooks and Jordan responded with kills and an ace was added by Green.
After a service error, Rinker served and the ball was returned to the back line for a point by Jordan.
Jordan notched another kill and Hill delivered an ace for an 8-3 lead.
Carlson smashed the ball and served an ace with Rinker coming up with a dig moments later as Moorefield gained momentum, 9-6.
A dig by Hardy was returned by Nevaeh Dickens for a kill and the next attack by Greater Beckley Christian went out.
Crites served up a pair of aces to pull within one, 11-10 before Green squeezed a point off a block attempt by Rinker.
The Lady Crusaders made several hitting errors as the game was tied at 14-all.
Moorefield hit the ball out a few times despite digs from Hardy and Riggleman.
Markwood generated a kill and Vetter served an ace to trail 17-16.
A dig by Riggleman was returned for a kill by Hill.
After a net error, Markwood made a push kill off an assist from Rinker.
Riggleman made a brilliant save and Markwood pushed the ball over with it coming back into the net and her serve created a point as the ball was hit into the net again, 21-20.
Jordan garnered two kills for the Lady Crusaders, then O’Neill made a dig to keep the set going.
An attack by Dickkens was hit back into the net, then Moorefield responded with a spike by Carlson.
A service error closed the set in favor of Greater Beckley Christian, 25-21.
The third set started with an ace from Vetter for the Yellow Jackettes, then Hill equalized it with a kill.
After a point by Green, Moorefield responded with a block by Rinker for a point, 2-all.
Hill made a couple of kills and Jordan had an attack return into the net as Greater Beckley Christian got separation, 7-2.
Carlson landed an attack, but the next attempt was met with a dig by Ashlynn Coffman and Hill slammed the ball down.
Hardy made two digs, then O’Neill had an attack returned into the net and Carlson served an ace to make it 8-5.
The next serve went out for Moorefield, then Regan Hogan notched a point and Brooks delivered two aces for a 12-5 score.
Riggleman recorded a push kill off a set from Crites.
Crites made a dig and there was a net violation by the Lady Crusaders.
“It is really special to finish here, this was our goal. This is where we wanted to be. We didn’t come away with a win, but I wouldn’t want to be with any other team,” Moorefield senior Kylie Crites said.
Riggleman served up an ace and the ensuing serve was returned into the net and Markwood added a kill to close the gap 13-10.
There was a mixture of errors and four kills by Hill as Greater Beckley Christian took a 19-12 lead.
Markwood made a dig save off an attack by Hill, but it wasn’t enough to clear the net.
Carlson launched an attack and it was met with a dig by Coffman, then Hill smashed the ball.
Hogan delivered a pair of aces sandwiching a volley by the Yellow Jackettes which sailed out.
Greater Beckley Christian finished the match with an attack by Hill which was deflected on a dig by Markwood out of play.
The Lady Crusaders went on to lose to the eventual state champion Wirt County, who picked up their 11th state title in school history.
The Yellow Jackettes (23-11-2) proved they belong at the state tournament and their young squad plans to return to Charleston.[/private]