GW's Hannah Shreve (5) goes up for a spike against Capital's Tahje Houston (37) and Paige Lucas.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Coach Missy Smith and George Washington got a good look at an epic match preceding their championship match as Capital outlasted South Charleston in four long sets in the Class AAA Region 3 Section 1 volleyball tournament.The Patriots had no intentions of letting things get that interesting.GW sailed past Cougars 25-14, 25-8, 25-12 to claim the sectional championship Thursday night at Capital.Both teams will move to the Region 3 co-finals at 2 p.m. Saturday at Woodrow Wilson where Capital will play the Section 2 champion and GW will play the Section 2 runner-up.
The winners of those matches will advance to the state tournament, but only one team was left holding hardware on Thursday."I like getting plaques," Smith said. "Plaques and trophies, I like it."The Patriots (42-10-3) got formally acquainted with the Cougars Wednesday night as Capital pushed GW to four sets. Smith said the combination of Wednesday's tough test and watching a long match was enough to motivate her troops."Capital played us tough [Wednesday] night and took us to four," Smith said. "We talked about it after the match and today. Whoever won [in the semifinals], we were coming out and handling business and taking them in three, and luckily we did."George Washington is led by a group of nine seniors, a core of girls of whom Smith was talking highly when they were sophomores two years ago.Now, that group has matured and is looking very capable of delivering the school's first volleyball state championship since the Patriots won back-to-back crowns in 2005 and 2006."They work so hard in the offseason, the gym, and every day in practice," Smith said. "It gets to be such a grind and they come in every day ready to work, and it shows on the court. We make less mistakes because we work so hard in practice and they don't ever panic, which I like."For all intents and purposes, Capital may have won the war while losing the battle on Thursday.The Cougars were visibly fatigued after their grueling 25-17, 22-25, 28-26, 25-15 play-in match with South Charleston, and Capital coach Carolyn Taylor admitted her team left it all on the court before the finals ever commenced.But Taylor was anything but discouraged, going as far as to guarantee a win the next time her squad takes the floor. "It feels amazing, it brought tears to my eyes," Taylor said of making it to the regional. "This is a big victory for our team. This is one of the best teams we've had. It was a disappointing end, however the girls were tired and put it all in to get that win to go to regionals. How we played that second game is definitely no match for how we're going to put up a fight and take regionals. Capital will be going to the states this year."
Hannah Shreve had nine kills, an ace, and a block for GW while Jordan Wittekind added 11 kills and two blocks. Sydney Downey registered 25 assists for the Patriots.Paige Lucas and Emily Dorsey each recorded seven points to lead Capital.Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.