By Carl Holcomb
The Lady Cougars launched numerous attacks landing kills to eliminate Greenbrier West in straight sets in the state volleyball quarterfinals during a quest to defend the state championship last Friday morning in Charleston led by senior Abby Wilson amassing her 1,000th career kill including a monster slam for match point: 25-13, 25-21 and 25-23.[private]
“The first key was not giving up. The first one was a little bleak, but they kept battling and they did good. They were really excited to be on the floor. The other team didn’t fold and our kids thought they were just going to play sets two and three like they did set one. They gave them a good battle, but they stepped up and did their jobs. It is good to have success in the morning. It puts you in a better mindset for the afternoon. They have their work cut out for them, but they know what they want and they will work for it,” East Hardy Coach Marsha Hahn remarked.
East Hardy built a 20-7 advantage in the first set behind a flurry of attacks and spikes by Wilson in addition to service points from Brooke Miller.
The back row of Julia Hahn, Emma Baker and Lexi Strawderman kept making digs to prevent the Cavaliers from mounting a comeback.
Wilson was joined by Jessica Smith for a double block denying a volley.
Greenbrier West’s Alexis Vestal notched a point off an attack as the ball was deflected out, then her serve was defended by Baker with a set from Strawderman to Miller for a kill.
East Hardy’s Kenna Wicks served and Wilson made a block.
The Cavaliers garnered two points as Rachel Adkins tapped the ball for a point and delivered an ace, 22-10.
Wilson nudged the ball over the blockers for a point as East Hardy went back to serving with Hahn throwing down a good serve, but it was returned by Katlyn Flack before Kaitlin Mullens made a block.
Wilson made an assist as Baker landed a kill, but the ensuing serve by the Lady Cougars hit the net.
A dig by Wilson was followed by an attack by Miller which was defended by Brittany Bevins, but the attack by Flack sailed out.
Baker slammed the ball down for the set point, 25-13.
The second set was closer with Greenbrier West gaining the initial point on a block by Bevins after a dig by Baker.
A serve by Vestal was returned into the net, but the following serve went out of bounds.
An attack by Miller was deflected out, then Miller’s serve was returned into the net.
Baker made a save on an attack and a move by Greenbrier West went under the net for a violation, 3-all.
After a net error by the Lady Cougars, Wilson made an attack that spun into two hits violation by the Cavaliers and an attack by Caitlyn Keatley was blocked by Wilson for a 5-4 lead.
Wilson made a spike, then Keatley sent an attack off a dig by Strawderman.
Wilson notched a kill and another attack was blocked out.
Keatley created a block and Bevins served an ace before landing the next serve in the net, 10-7.
After a block by Mullens, a timeout was called by the Lady Cougars.
Wicks made a save and Baker notched a point off two hits by the Cavaliers during an attack.
Miller sandwiched two kills off sets by Strawderman and Hahn around a point by Greenbrier West’s Kenley Posten, 13-10.
Begins made a kill, then East Hardy hit the net as the Cavaliers closed the gap.
Strawderman made a couple of digs, then Flack blocked a shot.
There was a carrying violation during an attack by Wilson, then a volley out by Bevins.
Posted made a kill, then Amanda Church’s serve was met with a dig by East Hardy’s Sierra Miller.
Strawderman assisted Wilson for a spike as East Hardy took a 16-14 edge.
Wilson made a block and a kill, then East Hardy hit the ball into the net.
Miller garnered a kill, then Baker served two aces for a 22-17 advantage.
Another serve by Baker was returned into the net, then Baker made a dig and it was returned by Vestal for a point.
The Lady Cougars gave up a couple points on attacks into the net, then Miller slammed the ball to finish the second set 25-21.
East Hardy fans continued to chant during the match, keeping the team pumped up and one little fan had a big sign showing support for his sister.
Greenbrier West recorded the first point of the third game as Vestal’s attack wasn’t returned, then a service violation gave the Lady Cougars possession for Wicks to serve.
Wilson made a kill, then blocked a volley out before landing another spike.
Sierra Miller made a dig and Strawderman tracked the pass down flipping it over, then the Cavaliers hit the net.
Miller made a block and tapped the ball over for a point, then Baker created a service point as the ball ricocheted into the net, 8-4.
The Lady Cougars showed great enthusiasm after making points and the energy was high.
After a kill by Vestal, Carlene McClung hit the net on a serve.
Strawderman served for the Lady Cougars and the ball was volleyed back into the net, but the ensuing serve went awry.
The Lady Cougars went up 13-7 on a serve by Wicks which was nearly deflected into the bench and ended up in the net.
McClung and Bevins made digs on Wilson’s attacks, then Baker blocked a shot out of bounds.
Miller made a dig and Wilson landed a spike off an assist from Strawderman.
An attack by Bevins was deflected out off a dig attempt by Miller, then Strawderman made a dig and Hahn set Miller for an attack which ricocheted off a Lady Cavalier for a point.
Begins and Keatley notched points for Greenbrier West, but East Hardy held a 16-13 lead.
Baker made a dig and Miller’s tap landed just outside, then Wilson spiked the ball on the edge of the back line.
An attack by Greenbrier West’s Rachel Adkins was met with a dig by Strawderman which was lifted into the net, then Mullens served two aces to tie the set.
The Lady Cavaliers took a 22-18 lead on kills by Posten and Mullens.
East Hardy’s Erin Riggle made a block, but a violation was called for touching the net.
Wilson made two kills and Wicks serve an ace to cut the deficit to 22-21.
After a serve hit the net, Baker’s attack was met with a carry on a save attempt by Keatley.
Hahn served and the ball was returned out of bounds as the Lady Cougars tied the set at 23-all.
An attack by Wilson created a point as Posten touched the net and the final match point was a spike by Wilson, 25-23.
Wilson was extremely excited to learn she reached her 1,000th career kill in the state quarterfinal match.
“When Chris and Marsha [Hahn] told me after the game that I had earned my 1,000 career kills all kinds of emotions ran over me, so much excitement and happiness. I am so glad I reached that milestone to finish out my high school volleyball career,” East Hardy senior Abby Wilson commented.
Wilson made 65 attacks and 25 kills plus 18 digs against Greenbrier West and Miller added 22 digs and 12 attacks.
Strawderman made 25 assists and Hahn added 18 plus Baker made 17 digs.
East Hardy advanced to the state semifinal round for the second consecutive season and fourth time in school history, will face Ritchie County on Friday night.[/private]