By Jay W. Bennett
Parkersburg News and Sentinel
Brandy Bunch of Wirt County was selected as captain of the Class A all-state volleyball team released last week by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
“Brandy played her best when the games were most important,” said Tiger head coach Janet Frazier, who watched the senior Bunch lead the orange and black to Wirt County’s ninth state championship.
Greater Beckley Christian senior Heather Lambert (800-plus assists, 200-plus digs, 80-plus aces) was also named to the first team. She helped the Crusaders get back to the state tournament.
Bunch finished her final year for the Tigers with 489 downed spikes and 78 kill-blocks. Not only did Bunch’s 24th kill in the fifth set lift Wirt County past Tyler Consolidated for the single-A state crown, but Bunch came through big in the postseason. She had 149 kills in the Tigers’ 10-match run to the state title and also had 32 kill-blocks.
The Silver Knights, who had to settle for the runner-up plaque for a second straight campaign, were the only school to land two players on the first team — seniors Megan Carpenter and Sydney Reed.
Head coach Richard Summers’ dynamic duo ended their respective careers with more than solid numbers. Carpenter put down 398 kills and posted 185 blocks to go along with 127 digs and 71 aces. Reed had 303 downed spikes, managed 100 blocks, had 117 digs and served for 47 aces.
The only repeat member on the first unit was Magnolia senior Mallory Chapman, who led the Blue Eagles back to the state tournament for a second straight season. Chapman surpassed 400 kills and digs, had 150-plus blocks and nearly 150 aces.
Buffalo’s Ali Burdette was one of three juniors selected. The all-time single-season Bison kill leader produced more than 400 downed spikes and had better than 350 digs.
Williamstown, which was upended by Charleston Catholic in the regional semifinal, was represented on the first team by junior Ashton Chancellor. The middle hitter, who was a key cog in the Yellowjackets winning the Little Kanawha Conference, had 407 kills, 116 blocks and 41 aces.
The other junior was setter Mika McCoy, who led Man to its first state tournament berth in school history despite losing her father to cancer during the year.
“She was very close with her dad and I know he would be very proud of her for achieving this honor,” stated Man head coach Orlando Washington. “I am very proud of how she played this season under the circumstances in which she had.”
Gilmer County senior Julie Bishop (402 kills, 111 blocks, 112 digs, 65 aces) and Charleston Catholic senior Sierra Portillo comprised the remainder of the first team.
Buffalo’s Madison Null, whose season ended versus Wirt County in the regional semifinal, was named the captain of the second team. Also earning second-team honors were East Hardy’s Marilyn Cassell, Greater Beckley Christian’s Janalee Lehman, Clay-Battelle’s Hannah Carreon, Wirt County’s Miriam Smith, Trinity’s Marlee Keenan, Pendleton County’s Hillary Ord, Sherman’s Baylee Harless, Charleston Catholic’s Gabby Portillo and Doddridge County’s Sarah Ferguson.
Fayetteville senior Hannah Samples was an honorable mention selection.