The Dominion Post  

Mohigans top Hawks for section volleyball title

Created on:   Tue, Oct 31, 2017   11:52 PM

Last modified:   Wed, Nov 1, 2017   10:37 AM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — The WVSSAC volleyball sectionals are all about stamina.

Morgantown outlasted the competition Oct. 31 on its home court, defeating Preston and crosstown rival University in the Class AAA Region I Section II semifinals and finals, respectively.

Both Morgantown and University, which defeated Buckhannon-Upshur in that semifinal contest, advanced to the Region I finals.

No. 1 seeded Morgantown opened the evening with a dominant three-set performance against the bottom-seeded Knights, earning a long break in- between its two contests.

The Hawks entered the sectional seeded second, with B-U third. After an emphatic win in the opening set of the semifinal, B-U dropped the next three sets, setting the stage for the Hawks’ victory. However, the longer match meant less of a break for the Hawks before the final kicked off.

“I’m sure it hurt,” Hawks coach Don Godfrey said of the extended semifinal match. “We were hoping to beat Buckhannon three straight and go from there, but we just couldn’t get it together that first set.”

The Hawks, who finished 1-2 against Morgantown during the regular season, nevertheless opened the first set against the Mohigans with a fury, maintaining a lead late into the set. Morgantown never gave up, though, and rallied from an eight point deficit to grab the 27-25 win

“At first, I wondered how we were going to do this,” MHS senior Anecia Miller said. “But we came through, and we rocked it.”

Godfrey feels that the momentum swing at the end of that first set was a difference-maker.

“If we win that first set, it’s a different game,” he said. “Then we lost the second, and we had to try and come from behind. I think we just ran out of gas.”

The Mohigans responded with a strong second set, winning, 25-21, and putting the Hawks in a 2-0 deficit entering the third set. University wasn’t ready to quit, however.

University jumped to a
24-13 lead in the third set, and, despite a double digit rally by the Mohigans, maintained the lead to bring the series to 2-1.

Unfortunately for University, the momentum from the MHS rally carried into the fourth set.

The Mohigans jumped to a 12-5 lead before finishing off University, 25-16, and earning the sectional championship.

The Mohigans benefited from home-court advantage as the top seed, as a large, energetic crowd turned out for the games.

“They definitely helped us in cheering and hyping us up, and making each of us feel like part of the team,” Miller said.

Godfrey said his team struggled with getting comfortable and playing sluggish when it had the lead, and that the Hawks lost energy and started making mistakes as the night went on.

“We just have to improve,” Godfrey said of the strategy heading to regionals. “We have to get better, work on those things, and play hard.”

MHS, on the other hand, proved itself as a contender, consistently playing smoothly and without much error all evening.

“Usually we make more mistakes, but this time they were limited,” MHS head coach Art Manantin said. “They played well, they played hard, and they played smart.”

Manantin said heading into regionals, the strategy is to play all-out.

“I told my girls not to hold back, and to give it their all,” Manantin said. “It’s the end of the season and everything counts now. It’s like a new season, pretty much.”

Miller and Madison McDonald paced the Mohigans on kills during the final, with Miller notching 12 and McDonald leading with 23. Hailee Hammerquist led MHS with an impressive
45 assists during the contest, while Briauna Malone recorded a team-high 25 digs.

Rozlind Russell earned three aces, while Taylor Reveal led with six blocks. Stats for the Hawks were unavailable.

University and Morgantown will travel to Brooke High on Nov. 4, to compete in the Class AAA Region I finals. The winners of those two matches will advance to the state championships, in Charleston.