GW advances to AAA volleyball finals
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Revenge was on the mind of the George Washington volleyball team Friday night at the Charleston Civic Center.
It was in that venue, on the same stage - the Class AAA state tournament semifinals - where Spring Valley ended the Patriots' season a year ago on its way to the school's second state championship.
GW got the revenge it wanted, beating the Timberwolves 25-19, 18-25, 25-21, 25-13 to advance to today's Class AAA state championship match against Musselman.
Patriots' coach Missy Smith said her team's goal all along has been to win a state championship, but to be able to do it and go through the team that knocked GW out of the tournament last season made it particularly special.
"When the brackets came out and we knew if they won we would have a potential rematch in the semis, the girls were fired up about it," Smith said. "They were ready to exorcise that demon, that thorn in our side since last year. They carried that loss since last year."
The first game, much like the second and third games, were back and forth and the buzz inside the Civic Center was palpable.
The Patriots and Timberwolves were tied at 14 before GW pulled ahead for good. Spring Valley got a hand on it but could not return Tori Strong's serve to give GW the game.
In the second game, Spring Valley wrested the lead away from GW at 6-5 and never trailed on the way to a 25-18 win.
George Washington's Hannah Shreve, who finished the match with 16 kills and 10 blocks, said losing the second game made her team more focused from that point forward.
"What was wrong with the second game was we played really tight," Shreve said. "For the rest of the match we came out and played our game and pulled through."
There were five lead changes in the third game before George Washington eventually pulled away for a 25-21 win to move within one game of the state championship match. That win would come easier than many expected after the way the first two games of the match had gone.
Spring Valley wilted in the fourth game as time and again someone from GW - Shreve, Strong, Casey Rollins, Sydney Downey and several others - made a play when the Patriots needed it most to close the door on Spring Valley's season.
"When we needed them to everybody stepped up," Smith said. "It didn't matter where the ball went, everybody did their job at some point."
Downey finished with 33 assists and three aces while Alexis Mourier and Strong each had six kills in the win.
Earlier Friday, GW advanced with a 25-13, 25-15, 25-17 win against Parkersburg South in the quarterfinals.
George Washington's opponent in today's title tilt, Musselman, beat Parkersburg 25-23, 25-15, 25-18 to reach the championship round.
The Applemen have reached the Class AAA finals two previous times - in 2007 when they lost to Parkersburg and last season when they were beaten by Spring Valley. GW and Musselman met three times during the regular season, all at George Washington's Queen of the Hill tournament.
The Patriots and Applemen split two games in pool play before Musselman beat GW 25-14, 26-24 in the championship match.
The Class AAA championship match is scheduled to start following the conclusion of the Class AA title game, which starts at 10 a.m.
Reach Tom Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org.