Ritchie, Williamstown advance as rebels take Region I | News, Sports, Jobs

The Ritchie County volleyball team ticketed the Class A state volleyball tournament, defeating state-qualified Williamstown in four sets during Saturday’s Region I championship game. (photo provided)

ELLENBORO — Ritchie County used a balanced slamming attack to emerge as the Class A, Region I champion here on Saturday afternoon after beating defending champion Williamstown 25-21, 25-23, 23-25 ​​and 26-24.

Both headman Matt Carpenter’s Rebels (35-8) and head coach Rachelle Cole’s Yellowjackets (35-7) qualified for the state tournament starting Wednesday in Charleston.

Emily Griffin (16), Rebekah Rupert (14) and Sydney Kopshina (13) led the killer fire in the finals. Jayci Gray hit six downed spikes, setter Abby Nichols had a match-high 41 assists and joined teammate Maci Ireland with two kills.

“It’s weird. Everyone’s talking. It’s like last year. It’s just the other way around.” licensed trainer Carpenter. “Last year they couldn’t get us. We beat them four times in a row and they got us into the regional championship and eventually the state championship.

“It’s weird how it’s going backwards and we’re hoping for the same result as last year. Hopefully we can get through the bracket and give ourselves a chance when we get down there. A really good day of volleyball today.”

Yellowjacket Payton Woodard, who recorded her 1,000th career kill during a 25-17, 25-12 and 25-19 semifinal triumph over Magnolia (23-14-1), exited the final late in the third set and did not return.

After needing a win in the fourth set, Rae Rupert looked bleak as he laid down one for an 18-10 lead. It was then 20-10 after Kopshina scored consecutive aces. A block from Rebekah Rupert gave the hosts just a point over the WHS, who were 24-15 behind.

“They have absolutely improved. You just got up way too late.” Coach Cole said of her side repelling nine match points before kills from Griffin and Kopshina sealed the crown. “We just have to take today as it is. We can go to the state tournament and we have to be ready when we play next time.”

After a sideout, Georgie Inman served eight points in a row. Becca Shamblin had two kills on the run, Kyndra Johnson had one, and Riah Sprouse registered a block.

“A really good volleyball day today”, added coach Carpenter, whose club 21-5 ousted Wheeling Central 25-21, 23-25, 25-12 and 25-14 in the other semifinal. “I really thought we had to go up against two of the better single A teams in the state. I thought Wheeling Central was number two behind Williamstown up there. I know we were in our own gym, which certainly helped, but we just beat two of the best teams in Single-A today, back-to-back. We had a great day.”

Needless to say, the Rebel boss was more than happy not to have to go to a fifth set.

“I used both timeouts and you never know in this game. You really don’t.” Added carpenter. “They’re using both timeouts and call plays and still not executing, but I think they’ve decided they want to make it really interesting and go back to 24-all and then get the last two. Kudos to Williamstown. They’re so stingy defensively. It’s hard to get the ball on the ground.

“I hope Woodard will feel better. She was eliminated in the third set. I hope she is doing well. Hats off to our girls. When it counted and it mattered, they made the crucial plays. Those are the plays we didn’t make against Williamstown. We almost had them on average. It was really tight. We didn’t get the points that were important and they were, and today we got those points randomly.

In the opening set of the final, a kill by Rebekah Rupert was followed by a serve point by Kila Frymier as the Rebels took a 16-14 lead. A kill from Shamblin later took it to 21, but Griffin responded with a downed spike and Kopshina served for the last three points.

Williamstown scored three straight points including a Sprouse block against Ireland to take a 12-9 lead in the second set. Back-to-back serve counts from Baylee Butta added up to 12. The Rebels took a definitive 15-14 lead, with libero Marissa Jeffrey serving when Griffin blocked Shamblin.

Blocking Claire Strobl, who had 10 kills and a dozen stuffs, helped teammate Riley Landis serve four straight as a seven-all tie in set three quickly turned into an 11-7 jacket edge. WHS libero Kamryn Haynes, who had 28 digs, registered an ace to make it 22-17. An unforced error by the Rebels later forced the fourth set.

“We definitely didn’t play well at all in the second game,” said Coach Cole. “We played without one of our starters. I also think we sat for an hour or more. You have all that adrenaline in the morning and then you just crash and are expected to try and play at a high level again.

“We made mistakes during the game that we didn’t make all season. I’m not worried about that. I think it was probably good for us to lose. I think it’s a good learning experience for them. You can be beaten just because we didn’t lose to a single A school this year. I hope they take that as a feeling they don’t like and don’t want to have again.”

Magnolia was pushed forward in the semifinals by Lauren Gaiser’s seven kills and Julia Lilze’s 17 digs. Jenna Blain, who had five kills and ten digs, joined teammate Sydney Knight with a pair of aces.

The Maroon Knights were led in their return by Kamy Conners and Nicole Reasbeck, who finished with 19 and 14 kills, respectively. Alexis Hood produced 26 assists and Lainey Peters had a dozen.

Contact Jay Bennett at [email protected]

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