By Steve Keenan
After a year’s hiatus, the Greater Beckley Christian girls are heading back to the state volleyball tournament. And they won’t have to buy tickets.
The Crusaders, the Class A Region 3, Section 1 champ, added the 2013 Region 3 championship to their resume’ Saturday by defeating Man 3-0 in the title match. Both teams earned state tournament berths.
Scores were 25-20, 25-12 and 25-11.
Greater Beckley had earlier clinched its return trip to states with a 3-0 victory over Greenbrier West in the opening match of the day at the Gilmore Gymnasium on the campus of Appalachian Bible College.
“You’re always happy when you win,” said Greater Beckley Christian coach Kerie Lopez. “The second and third games (with Man) was real good volleyball from everybody on the court.”
She felt her starters needed a little spark to get them going.
“I felt like the starting varsity maybe was overplaying,” she explained. So, she turned to reserves who normally don’t see as much action. “They (stepped) up to the plate and calmed the starting six down some.”
One particular instance, she pointed out, occurred when sophomore Shelby White stepped in to serve with the score tied at 12-12 in the opening game. White proceeded to secure five straight service points, including a pair of aces, to give the Crusaders some breathing room.
In the championship match, Greater Beckley got 37 assists from Heather Lambert, 16 kills and three blocks from Kayla Hill, 16 kills and two blocks from Jana Lehman, four kills from Liz Graham, eight digs from Kiki Peterson, and six digs from Kayla Maynor.
Man had advanced to the finals with a 3-1 win over Fayetteville, the Section 2 titlist, denying the Pirates a return trip to Charleston. The Hillbillies defeated Fayetteville 25-18, 25-12, 10-25 and 25-21 to move on.
In the opening game, Man broke away from a 12-12 tie with seven straight points to take control. After Man got 11 consecutive service points from Hunter Harvey to grab a 2-0 lead in games, Fayetteville rebounded in the third game. Hannah Samples registered seven service points in a row to stake the Pirates to an 8-0 lead, and the closest Man could get was five points. Maddie Pritt later strung together four straight service points to give FHS a 14-4 cushion, and Cassie Semple had two crucial kills in the game’s closing stages.
The final game was a back-and-forth affair that was tied 10 times, the last time at 21-21. From there, Man’s Jada Harris served out the victory.
Fayetteville coach Amy White said her team could never generate much momentum.
“We get down on ourselves if we don’t win the first game,” she said. “The season was one of ups and downs, just like today.”
In GBC’s shutout of Greenbrier West to start the day, the Crusaders posted scores of 25-22, 25-21 and 25-15.
“I was really unhappy with our service errors,” said Lopez. “We had a great passing game, and we were about average at the net.”
The Crusaders had to overcome a rough start to get on track in 2013, she said.
“The first part of the season we were so inconsistent, I really had no idea what to do,” Lopez said. “September was really bad.
“The sophomore class matured and we started playing better. Honestly, we’re really peaking at the right time.”
The state tournament will be held Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15 and 16 at the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum.
A blind draw to choose pairings in each classification will be held Monday and the results posted on www.wvssac.org.