CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Class AA volleyball title match will have a familiar look to it Thursday.
Thanks to semifinal wins from Morgantown in Class AAA and Buffalo in Class A to close out Wednesday’s semifinal session, both of those finals will have a new look.
On a busy Wednesday evening inside the Charleston Coliseum, six semifinal matches took place to conclude the day’s action, which also featured 12 quarterfinal matches throughout the morning and afternoon.
A closer look at the semifinals:
MUSSELMAN 3, Bridgeport 0: The No. 1 seed Applemen moved to within one victory of a three-peat by defeating the fifth-seeded Tribe in straight sets, 25-17, 26-24, 25-10.
Musselman (39-9-1) closed a relatively tight opening set in strong fashion to gain the early advantage, before being forced to rally in the second set.
Bridgeport (36-12-2) held a 24-23 lead in Set 2 and looked to be on the verge of evening the match, but the Applemen showed their championship mettle and responded with three straight points out of a timeout to gain the 2-0 lead.
MHS carried that momentum into what proved to be the final set and rolled to victory in what became the biggest margin of victory of any semifinal set.
Musselman is after its ninth Class AAA championship since 2008.
Earlier Wednesday, Musselman defeated George Washington in straight sets in a rematch of the 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2020 AAA final.
Bridgeport advanced to a semifinal with a five-set victory against Woodrow Wilson.
MORGANTOWN 3, Hedgesville 1: The second-seeded Mohigans fought off the No. 3 Eagles for a four-set victory to prevent a rematch of an all-Eastern Panhandle Class AAA final.
Despite coming up just short of a sweep, Morgantown moved on with a 25-17, 25-19, 23-25, 25-18 victory.
“Our mental strength is something we do train to have our kids mentally prepared for different situations,” Morgantown coach Erica Manor said. “They stepped up to the plate in that moment. In the back and forth, it’s a mental game for either team and we came out on top.”
In the victory over the Eagles (35-12), Audrey Buck had eight kills, three aces and 17 assists. Paige Brock also had eight kills for Morgantown.
“I saw the fight and tenacity for them to go for point for point no matter the pressure or situation,” Manor said. “We stayed in the grind and didn’t lose sight of that. Our mentality didn’t change.”
The win allows the Mohigans (28-10-1) to play in their first state volleyball final, giving Manor an opportunity to face her alma mater in Musselman, where she was part of a state championship team and previously on the coaching staff under Shawn Martz, who remains the coach of the Applemen.
“To be able to coach against him, it’s something so special,” Manor said. “For our girls to work this hard to get to this point, it’s a huge moment for us. I respect him so much. He’s a mentor to me in the volleyball world, so I’m excited to battle against one of the best.”
Earlier Wednesday, the Mohigans defeated Spring Valley in straight sets and Hedgesville swept Parkersburg.
SHADY SPRING 3, Herbert Hoover 0: The top seed Tigers made it two straight-set wins in as many matches Wednesday, allowing them to play in the Class AA final for a fourth straight season.
After sweeping Frankfort in a quarterfinal, Shady Spring (52-4-1) picked up where it left off in the evening and used a strong start to build momentum in a 25-14, 25-17, 25-12 victory over the Huskies.
“We played great team ball and all the girls were communicating,” Tigers’ coach Kelly Williams said. “Everyone was doing their job and it was great to watch.”
Meg Williams contributed 18 kills in the victory, while Chloe Thompson added 12 kills.
It marked the Tigers’ fourth win over the Huskies in the last week — twice in sectional play and again in Region 3 action ahead of the semifinal.
“They know your secrets too, so it’s a little nerve-wracking to know that they know everything about you when you’ve seen them that many times,” coach Williams said. “There is a chance that things could not go your way, so for us to play like we did was phenomenal.”
Hoover finished its season with a 42-18-1 mark, setting a school record for victories in the process.
The Tigers swept Frankfort in a quarterfinal, while the Huskies battled back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Wayne in a five-set thriller.
PHILIP BARBOUR 3, Oak Glen 0: The second-seeded Colts ensured the Class AA title match will be the same for a third straight year by beating the No. 3 Golden Bears, 25-19, 25-22, 25-22.
Though PB (55-3-1) recorded the victory in straight sets, Oak Glen (30-8-1) were competitive in all three sets.
The Golden Bears led the second set 17-15 and looked to have a quality chance of tying the match at one set apiece, before the Colts closed strong to seize control.
“They took a breather and when we called the one timeout, I was like, ‘We all make mistakes. You need to blow these mistakes off, learn from them and keep going. You can’t dwell on them, because if you do, it’s going to make you play worse and if you play worse, the whole team plays worse,’” PB coach Heather Halfin said. “Senior leadership helped us step up.”
Mackenna Halfin contributed 15 kills, 14 digs and three blocks in the win. Madison Reese and Katie Kennedy added 18 assists apiece, while Emily Denison added 11 kills.
Kennedy also had nine points with one ace, while Averi Carpenter had 10 points with three aces to go along with 16 digs.
Shady Spring defeated Philip Barbour in the 2020 Class AA final, before the Colts evened the score by getting a measure of revenge last season.
“We’re a lot alike,” coach Halfin said. “We have strengths and they have strengths and we have weaknesses just like they have weaknesses. It’s going to be a battle of who wants it more and it could very easily go either way. All I ask for is that both team stay healthy and play hard. I’m going to be satisfied with the result as long as we’re playing as hard as we can possibly play.”
In quarterfinal play, the Colts swept Winfield and the Golden Bears knocked off Liberty Harrison, 3-1.
WILLIAMSTOWN 3, Moorefield 0: No. 1 seed Williamstown made quick work of No. 5 Moorefield in a 25-14, 25-19, 25-13 victory that moves the Yellowjackets to within a victory of repeating as Class A champion.
WHS swept Tolsia in a quarterfinal, while MHS did likewise in a victory over Greenbrier West earlier Wednesday.
Williamstown brings a 37-7 record into Thursday’s title match.
BUFFALO 3, Ritchie County 1: The second-seeded Bison won the final two sets to claim a 25-19, 22-25, 25-16, 25-20 victory. In the process, Buffalo prevented a rematch of what would’ve otherwise been an all-Little Kanawha Conference final between the third-seeded Rebels and Williamstown for a second straight year
“We’ve talked all year about not getting too high and the second set all year has been a little bit of our nemesis,” Buffalo coach Barry Clendenin said ”After letting that get away from us, in the huddles and timeouts, the seniors were really talking to the girls about staying focused, not giving up and keep pushing through.”
Chloe Hale was a significant contributor for Buffalo (45-6) and registered 22 kills in the win.
The Bison will make their first appearance in a state final Thursday against Williamstown.
“We graduated five seniors last year and a lot of people didn’t think we had it in us to do this,” Clendenin said. “This group has more fight and so much heart in this group. We’ll come out tomorrow and battle and that’s all we can ask of them.”
In quarterfinal play earlier Wednesday, Buffalo and Ritchie County (36-9) won in straight sets over Pendleton County and James Monroe, respectively.