East Hardy Volleyball showed heart and determination throughout this season finishing as the WVSSAC Class A State Volleyball Tournament runner-up displaying grace in the title match loss to defending champion Wirt County and earning the team sportsmanship award in the process playing in Charleston last Thursday: 25-14, 25, 25-15, 25-8.
The Cougars expressed sadness and compassion for the teams not being able to participate in the Class A Tournament due to COVID-19 and were just grateful for the chance to play this season ending in Charleston only days before Hardy County turned orange on the map.
East Hardy was one of five teams playing in the Class A Tournament due to the pandemic and the first match for the Cougars was against fellow Hardy County representative Moorefield in the semifinals.
Winning the sportsmanship award was an honor befitting for the Cougars who were friendly and respectful to their opponents and the officials.
East Hardy’s trio of seniors SierraMarie Miller, Erin Riggle and Perry Whetzel were selected to the Class A State Volleyball All-Tournament Team joining Wirt County’s Jordan Hickman, Adeline Sims and Emma Wyer plus Summers County’s Taylor Isaac and Gavin Pivont.
“We were excited to get this sportsmanship award. It shows the temperament of our girls and the quality of kids that we are bringing down here. They are good kids. For them to come down here and get the sportsmanship award was very nice,” East Hardy assistant coach Chris Hahn stated.
“We were really happy to be here. Tonight they were out of our weight class. They were hitting the ball really hard and several inches above the net. Wirt County is the best team we have seen and their outside hitters were better. Our girls didn’t lay down and didn’t give up. They just got beat and we can live with getting beat. Being runner-up is still impressive. You should have seen these girls as sophomores and the weight we put on them. We just weren’t a good team and for them to work so hard to get to the point where they are now the second best team in Class A is just all you can ask for. I am super proud with how far they have come. We are sad for the teams that couldn’t be here, but glad we had this opportunity.”
Wirt County became the winningest volleyball program in Mountain State history after claiming its 13th title and denied the Cougars their quest for a second championship with their first coming back in 2016 against the Tigers when current coach Katie Frazier was a player under her mother.
“I am really proud of my girls to work together and to put it together in the end. I am really proud of my seniors, They wanted to repeat as state champions. Those previous 12 titles belong to my mother, so I don’t consider them mine. I am happy we won this one today. This one is mine. Our back row was very beneficial and our serve receive got better. Year to year you say you have been down here, but it took the first set to shake some nerves out and put it together in the end. Each year is different in the first set. We were able to finish it out. We felt our blocking wasn’t up to where it should be in practice, so we worked on it and we have outside hitters who can jump out of the gym. It was a team effort and I have four coaches here. It takes a village to win,” Wirt County coach Katie Frazier commented.
East Hardy’s SierraMarie Miller started the state championship match serving, then the Tigers collected the ball and setup Emma Wyer for a spike.
An attack by East Hardy’s Erin Riggle was met on a dig by Wirt County’s Jordan Hickman and Madison Richards set for Wyer to slam the ball again.
Miller took a set from Victoria Ames and hammered the ball down, then Perry Whetzel served and the ball was returned just beyond the line by Adeline Sims as the Cougars tied the set, 2-all.
The Tigers regained the edge on two spikes by Wyer.
East Hardy’s Emily Dyer made a couple of digs and Riggle created a point off an attack.
Riggle notched a kill and Dyer delivered an ace to put the Cougars ahead 5-4, but the next tap attempt by Riggle landed in the net.
Wirt County served out of bounds, then Riggle served and a shot by Wyer was met with a dig by Ames before Miller’s attack was blocked by Samantha Burns knotting up the set again, 6-all.
Burns blocked another volley, then the Cougars committed two errors on serves by Wirt County’s Emily Young, who served up several aces and forced returns into the net to build a 16-6 advantage.
East Hardy’s Gabby Miller blocked a volley and SierraMarie Miller recorded a spike, but the Tigers pounced back with kills from Richards and Isabelle Rios.
Whetzel made a couple of digs, but Wirt County continued to apply pressure swinging at the net.
Richards launched a spike top a 19-7 advantage, then East Hardy’s Victoria Ames pushed the ball over and it couldn’t be corralled.
A serve by Ames was returned into the net, then Rios touched the net on an attack as the Millers defended.
SierraMarie Miller fired the ball over for a kill and Ames served an ace to cut the deficit to 19-12.
After a volleying error by the Cougars, Miller spike the ball and has a serve returned out of bounds.
Wirt County responded with two kills by Wyer for a 22-14 advantage and timeout was called.
After another spike by Wyer, the Cougars committed two errors as Wirt County claimed the first set 25-14.
Wirt County started with a 3-nil edge in the second set, but the Cougars pounced back for a 6-3 lead.
The Tigers began with an ace served by Richards, then Whetzel made a dig on the next serve.
Riggle blocked a volley and it was saved by Wirt County’s Jordan Hickman and Rios made a kill.