High school football will begin its playoffs this weekend. Volleyball will be wrapping its up.
Sixteen teams will be in Clarksburg today as the state volleyball tournament begins at Robert C. Byrd High School. Among the field are a pair of familiar faces. Defending Class AAA champion Parkersburg and AA-A champ Wirt will be seeking to defend their respective titles.
Both teams will officially open the tournament with noon games. The Big Reds will begin their hunt for a third consecutive AAA title when they take on Cabell Midland, while Wirt plays Winfield.
Class AA-A Region II champ Gilmer will take on Independence at 2 p.m., while runner-up Ritchie County faces Shady Spring at 8 p.m.
The Titans are led by 6-foot-4 Denae Dobbins, who dominated play at the net during the regional tournament. Dobbins had 15 kills in the regional final victory over the Rebels.
Casey Kuhn led Ritchie with 12 kills in the regional final, while teammate Jenna Rollins had 35 sets. Jessica Stone had 17 service points in Shady Spring's regional championship.
In the day's other Class AA-A quarterfinal, Sissonville takes on Williamstown at 6 p.m.
In Class AAA, Parkersburg South will try to atone for two consecutive state tournaments of frustration. The Patriots finished runner-up to crosstown rival Parkersburg in the past two state championships. However, South faces a tough task in its 6 p.m. first-round quarterfinal with Capital. The Cougars own a victory over the Big Reds this season.
Class AAA Region II winner North Marion faces Woodrow Wilson at 8 p.m. The Flying Eagles will be making their third trip to the state tournament, while this appearance is the first for the Huskies.
In the day's other AAA quarterfinal, Hedgesville faces Greenbrier East at 2 p.m. The two teams met once this season, with East earning the victory.
Action continues Saturday with Class AAA semifinals beginning at 9 a.m.
Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at email@example.com