CLARKSBURG -- The defending state champions in both Class AAA and Class AA-A began their title defenses with victories in the West Virginia State Volleyball Tournament at Robert C. Byrd High School on Friday and the Little Kanawha Conference had three of its four teams advance to the Class AA-A semifinals.
Parkersburg opened with a 15-6, 11-15, 15-5, 15-5 win over Cabell Midland in Class AAA action. The Big Reds were led by Alyson Bell, who scored 15 points. Becky Roberts and Sarah Weaver added 14 points each in the opening round game.
Wirt County defeated Winfield 15-8, 15-0, 5-15, 15-9 in the Class AA-A opener. Brandy Higgins with 15 points and Elysia Otto with 10 points carried the Tigers in defense of their 2000 crown.
The Tigers will face fellow Little Kanawha Conference member Gilmer County in the semi-finals. The Titans knocked off Independence 15-8, 15-11, 15-4 to advance.
Gilmer was led by the trio of Hannah Chambers, Denae Dobbins, and Andrea Wright. Chambers served 17 points with five aces and was 11 of 16 spiking with four kills. Dobbins dominated at the net, going 17 of 18 spiking with 12 kills and five blocks, while Wright scored 10 points and was 5 of 6 spiking with two kills.
"The girls just keep coming up big in these clutch games," GCHS co-head coach Mickey Metz said. "Denae played big up at the net. We were serving pretty good and the front row got the job done."
"Towards the end, we really picked it up," GCHS co-head coach John Nicolais said. "When we first showed up, we were a little in awe of the whole situation. We play Wirt County (Saturday) and we definitely need to cut back on our mental mistakes."
The Tigers and Titans will face off 20 minutes after the Class AAA semi-finals are completed.
Hedgesville downed Greenbrier East 16-14, 15-3, 16-14 to close the afternoon session and will face Parkersburg today at 9 a.m.
In the evening session, Capital downed Parkersburg South 15-11, 15-9, 15-4, and Woodrow Wilson cruised to the semis with a 15-1, 15-3, 15-3 victory over North Marion in Class AAA. Capital will meet Woodrow Wilson at 9 a.m. today.
In Class AA-A, Williamstown disposed of Sissonville 15-10, 15-12, 2-15, 15-13 to become the third LKC team to advance.
Cali Pate led the Tigers with 10 points and went 26 of 29 spiking with four kills.
In the final game of the night, Shady Spring and Ritchie County waged a five-set war that ended 16-18, 15-6, 11-15, 15-12, 15-5 in favor of Shady Spring. The Tigers battled back from a 2-1 deficit to earn the final Class AA-A spot.
"We just had too many mental mistakes," RCHS head coach Marsha Knight said. "We should have put them away and been out of here in three games. We just dug ourselves into a hole and couldn't get out of it."
The Rebels were led by Jenna Rollins, who scored 17 points with three aces and had 50 sets. Kelly Perkins added 14 points with four aces and went 50 of 53 spiking with 11 kills. Casey Kuhn also played big at the net going 48 of 50 spiking with 17 kills.
Williamstown and Shady Spring will be paired in the Class AA-A bracket and play 20 minutes after the Class AAA semi-finals.
The Class AAA championship will be played at 2 p.m. and will be followed by the Class AA title match.