CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Taylor Lord and her Musselman teammates finally kicked down the door to the Class AAA volleyball state championship Saturday morning.Lord served match point in the second set, then emphatically ended the third and final set with a kill as the Applemen convincingly defeated Greenbrier East 25-22, 25-14, 25-16 in straight sets at the Charleston Civic Center.Musselman, No. 1 in the latest RSNsports.com rankings, finished runner-up the past two years. The Applemen, making their sixth appearance in the finals in the last seven years, also captured titles in 2008 and 2010, but Lord and her junior class had never experienced the ecstasy of a state title."It was a complete team effort,'' said Lord, one of the top candidates for state player of the year. "I might have put that last ball down, Lexi [Fritts] got that ace and Kait [Ferretti] had that great set. It's three sets to 25 and I can't make 75 kills. Throughout the whole weekend everyone worked so well together, probably the best we've worked together all season.''
Musselman, located in Inwood in Berkeley County, lost to George Washington in the championship match last year and was beaten in the finals by Spring Valley in 2011.The Applemen, who never lost to an in-state opponent this season, dusted off Capital in Friday's opening round then Parkersburg in straight sets in the semifinals. "For my group of girls, the juniors, we've been here twice and we lost twice and that was such a heartbreaker,'' Lord said. "We went into this game [with Greenbrier East] so confident. We were like, 'This is our year. We're going to win.' And we just went out there and took care of it.''Lord, Musselman senior liberto Kaci Dove, junior setter Ferretti and senior Autumn Bartles were all-tournament selections.
Musselman only loses Bartles, Dove and senior middle hitter Megan Raney to graduation."We're losing some key players,'' said Lord, "a setter and libero, so that's going to be a little bit of a tough transition, but I'm really confident in us and I think we're going to make a good run again as long as we keep improving and working together.''Greenbrier East, which opened in 1968, was playing in the school's first finals. The No. 6 Spartans got past No. 2 Spring Valley in Friday's semis in five sets.Greenbrier East senior setter Kaitie Shaver, junior libero Abby Morgan and junior outside hitter Abby Brown were all-tournament picks. The Spartans also earned the sportsmanship award."What I was worried about coming in was serves received and [Musselman is the] best serving team in the state, by far,'' said Greenbrier East coach Matt Sauvage, who loses four seniors. "They got us on that. That's what ate us up. I'm proud of the girls regardless. It's been an awesome journey.''The other all-tournament selections were Spring Valley senior Megan Morrison and Parkersburg senior Kaitlin Farrah.Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.