MORGANTOWN – The MHS volleyball team (16-7-1) hosted cross town rival UHS (12-10-1) on Thursday night in its annual “Penny War Pink Game” in support of breast cancer.
The Mohigans earned a 3-0 sweep of the visiting Hawks while also taking both games of the season series between the two teams.
The opening set was much different than what the final score reflected in the match, as UHS was the team to grab the momentum early. The Hawks jumped out to a 10-7 lead early in the first set that seemed to catch MHS off guard slightly.
The Mohigans were able to calm themselves down and get back into the game in no time, cutting the deficit to tie the game at 10 a piece, then grabbing the lead (one they wouldn’t surrender) 11-10 on the very next point.
MHS head coach Erica Manor-Sphar knows that her team is able to stay collected when falling behind, even when the game is as big as one against a rival.
“The match overall was a grind, it was back and forth game and it stayed that way for a long time,” she said after the match. “Then we broke through at the end by making less mistakes than they did.”
MHS would pull away late in the first set, winning the opener 25-18.
One moment of note, that potentially changed the match, was when UHS libero Katie Pilgrim left the game with an injury. She dove for a ball that was headed toward the UHS bench and collided with a chair while attempting to hit the ball. Head coach Nick Lusk says the absence of Pilgrim was a huge hit to his team.
“Just losing Katie hurt us a lot, Katie is like our heart and soul out on the court,” Lusk said of losing Pilgrim early on. “We can compete with anyone, but losing Katie just drained us and it was tough to come back from.”
Despite the loss, it is clear the UHS is much-improved from the last time they played MHS.
As for the Mohigans, they continue to look like a strong club that could be destined for another state championship appearance. While MHS are solid in nearly all phases on the court, Manor-Sphar says there are a few things they need to elevate in order to achieve the ultimate goal.
“We want to continue to be aggressive with our serves, and also focus on our service receiving,” she said. “Making sure those things are clean and crisp should help us stay sailing smoothly.”
MHS will travel to Hedgesville on Saturday for its next matchup, while UHS will wait for the OVAC conference tournament to begin next week.
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