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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia women's volleyball team fell to Illinois in Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament on Friday evening in Lexington, Kentucky, at Memorial Coliseum. The Mountaineers could not overcome the Fighting Illini in set scores of 23-25, 25-12, 25-22, and 25-20.

The Mountaineers earned their first-ever NCAA Tournament bid this season.

"Congrats to Illinois for advancing," coach Reed Sunahara said. "It's not the way we wanted to end, but I am proud of our players and our program for getting to the tournament, and making it this far. They made history, and I am proud of them for working hard and getting us here."

West Virginia was led by fifth-year senior outside hitter Adrian Ell, who recorded her 12th double-double of the season with 19 kills and 12 digs.

Additionally, four Mountaineers tallied double-digit scores, including senior setter Lacey Zerwas, who recorded 45 assists, while senior outside hitter Kristin Lux added 12 kills to the match.

Fifth-year senior libero Alexa Hasting tallied 26 digs, and sophomore outside hitter Skye stokes recorded 11 digs.

WVU finished the match hitting .184, with 52 kills and six team blocks.

The Mountaineers opened the match with an early 10-3 lead. Illinois used a 3-0 scoring run to bring the set to 10-6 and eventually took a 13-11 lead. The teams traded the lead, but a 4-0 scoring run from WVU gave the Mountaineers Set 1, 25-23.

Illinois used a 5-0 scoring run to open Set 2 and went on to take an early 11-4 lead. A few strong scoring runs gave Illinois the frame, 25-12.

UI opened Set 3 in front, but WVU responded with a kill. Illinois took the lead 5-3, but West Virginia fought back with a 3-0 run to go up 6-5. The Fighting Illini used a 9-1 run to take back the lead, 15-9. After UI held the lead, 23-16, a 5-0 Mountaineer run brought the Mountaineers within two points, but Illinois took Set 3, 25-22.

Lux opened Set 4 with a kill, and the teams traded points. A 3-0 run gave West Virginia the lead, 7-5, but Illinois followed to take back the lead, 8-7. An 8-0 run from UI extended its lead. Illinois brought the set to 24-18, but West Virginia was not ready to give up. The Mountaineers held on for two more points before falling, 25-20.

WVU entered the tournament with a 19-9 mark this fall, good for a third-place finish in the Big 12 Conference. The squad went 8-8 in Big 12 play.

WASHINGTON — For the first time in 40 years, the No. 11-seeded West Virginia men’s soccer team prepares for an NCAA quarterfinal match as it visits No. 3 Georgetown on Saturday. Kickoff at Shaw Field in Washington is set for noon.

The match will be streamed live on ESPN+.

“We haven’t allowed it to sink in in terms of what we’ve achieved to this point because we don’t feel like we’re done,” WVU coach Dan Stratford said. “We still feel like there’s so much more to strive for. So, what an incredible opportunity on Saturday against Georgetown to make an even greater inroad into the record books and become the first team to reach the final four.

“It’s the nature of this time of year — once you win one, you almost immediately look to the next one. That’s what we’ve done here; we very, very quickly have turned our attention to Georgetown.”

The Mountaineers (12-3-5) are in the round of 8 for the first time since 1981, as well as the first time in program history in the current NCAA Tournament format. Overall, the club is 8-14-1 in NCAA Tournament action.

West Virginia earned its highest national seed since 2007 (No. 6) this postseason. Saturday’s match marks the squad’s third 2021 NCAA Tournament contest, the most in one season in program history.

WVU advanced to the quarterfinals with a 1-0, double-overtime win at No. 6 Tulsa on Nov. 27. Freshman midfielder Otto Ollikainen scored the game-winning, golden goal in the 102nd minute to push the Mountaineers to the victory. Fifth-year senior defender Kevin Morris and sophomore midfielder Ryan Crooks secured assists on the tally.

With the efforts, Ollikainen was named the WVU Student-Athlete of the Week on Monday while Morris and fifth-year senior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky earned spots on TopDrawerSoccer’s Team of the Week on Tuesday.

Saturday marks the 21st meeting between the Mountaineers and Hoyas (18-2). GU leads the all-time series, 16-4, including 9-1 at home. The two teams, who met nearly annually in Big East action from 1995-2011, last played in the 2018 NCAA Second Round, a 1-0 Hoya victory at Shaw Field on Nov. 18, 2018.

The winner of Saturday’s fixture advances to the Men’s College Cup, which is set for Dec. 10-12, in Cary, North Carolina. Of note, the Mountaineers have never reached the final four.

West Virginia has featured 14 different goal scorers this fall, the most in single-season program history. Sophomore forward Ciro Bourlot Jaeggi leads the way with six tallies while nine others have found the back of the net multiple times.

What's more, 19 of WVU's 24 field players who have stepped onto the pitch this fall have tallied at least one point.

Individually, Morris is the program’s all-time leader in career matches played (91), career starts (82) and minutes played (8,030), while Tekesky is tied for WVU’s No. 1 mark in career wins (45) as well as career starts by a goalkeeper (80). He also ranks No. 1 in WVU history in career matches played by a goalkeeper (82).

Additionally, Tekesky enters the contest ranked No. 1 in career minutes played and No. 3 in shutouts among active NCAA Division I goalkeepers.

Stratford is 79-10-11 as a head coach, including 18-6-6 with the Mountaineers. The second-year coach is 12-1-1 in the NCAA Tournament, with the first 12 matches coming at Charleston (W.Va.) in Division II.

Georgetown is led by 16th-year coach Brian Wiese, who is 199-84-37 during his tenure. The Hoyas topped Georgia State, 2-0, in the second round before taking down Providence, 4-1, in the third round.

GU is in the NCAA Quarterfinals for the third consecutive season and fifth time in program history. Champions of the Big East, Georgetown is a perfect 12-0 at home this season.

Sean Zawadzki was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year while Dante Polvara earned Big East Midfielder of the Year honors. Meanwhile, Stefan Stojanovic has a team-best nine goals this fall.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Mountaineer men’s basketball game at the WVU Coliseum on Saturday will feature some history as West Virginia hosts Radford (4 p.m. on ESPN+).

It will be just the second time ever that the opposing head coach at the Coliseum for a regular-season game is a former Mountaineer player.

Darris Nichols, who is still fifth in West Virginia basketball history in most games played (141 from 2005-08), is the first-year head coach of the Highlanders (4-4). A native of Radford, Virginia, Nichols will lead his new team against his old one in his old stomping grounds.

“I’m happy for Darris, particularly to be able to do it in his home town,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins, who was in his first season leading the Mountaineers when Nichols was a senior and the team captain, helping West Virginia to a 26-11 record that included a run to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. “We all have to start somewhere and hopefully have success.”

Huggins, whose squad is 6-1 this season, has faced former assistant coaches in the past and will do so again in a couple of weeks when WVU travels to UAB to meet Andy Kennedy’s Blazers on Dec. 18. But going head-to-head against a former player is a new experience.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever coached against a former player,” pondered Huggins, who holds a 906-383 career coaching record.

Does it help to know the coach on the other bench personally?

“I don’t think so,” said Huggins. “We all watch tape of prior games, so we have a pretty good idea of what they do, so I’m not sure it matters if they know me or I know them.”

Huggins got Nichols started in the coaching profession. After his days playing for WVU ended with 993 career points and 399 assists, Darris spent one season playing professionally in Hungary before returning to his alma mater to serve as a graduate assistant coach (2010-11) under Huggins.

From there, Nichols started climbing the ladder, working as a full-time assistant at Northern Kentucky (2011-13), Wofford (2013-14), Louisiana Tech (2014-15) and Florida (2015-21) before returning to Radford, where he was hired last spring to serve as the Highlanders’ head coach.

Huggins’ time as an assistant in the college ranks wasn’t as long — one season as a G.A. at WVU and two as an assistant at Ohio State — before he got his first head coaching opportunity at Walsh (Ohio) College in 1980. He had spent much of his life training for the job, though.

“I was around my dad so much,” remembered Bob, whose father, Charlie Huggins, was a hall of fame high school coach in Ohio for 20 years (398-74). “And whether I wanted to be or not, I was at virtually every practice. I was around the game my whole life.

“Everyone said I was crazy to go from Ohio State to Walsh, which maybe I was,” chuckled Huggins of his move to the NAIA program. “Everybody said, ‘Why did you do it?’ And I said, ‘Because I believe in myself. I’m betting on me.’ I think that’s what Darris has done. You have to have a strong belief in yourself and what you do, or how are you going to get those guys who play for you to believe in what you do? Darris has those qualities.”

Nichols brings a Radford squad to Morgantown that features many of the same schemes Darris ran for Huggins at WVU, particularly a motion offense and a man-to-man defense.

The Highlanders started the 2021-22 regular season by dropping four of their first five games with losses to Virginia (73-52), Virginia Tech (65-39), Furman (81-64) and Navy (47-33). Since then, though, they have won three straight — William & Mary (67-54), Eastern Kentucky (88-75) and Kentucky Christian (79-70).

No Radford player currently is averaging more than nine points per game, but eight are averaging better than five. Rashun Williams, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward who is a graduate transfer from South Florida, leads RU in scoring (8.8) and is second in rebounding (4.9).

“Look what Darris has done. They were struggling but now have won three in a row and are playing really well,” noted Huggins. “They have great spacing. They take good shots. They’re defending. They’ve done a great job.”

Now Nichols will get a chance to test his players against his alma mater. He’s just the second former Mountaineer to serve as the opposition’s head coach in a game at the Coliseum.

The first?

Huggins was involved in that one as well, though as a player.

Fred Schaus, who was an All-American for WVU from 1947-49 and also would serve as West Virginia’s head coach (1955-60) and athletic director (1981-89), was the head coach at Purdue when the Boilermakers came to the Coliseum for the third game of the 1975-76 season.

“We got our (expletive) kicked. That’s what I remember,” said Huggins in recalling the Mountaineers’ 90-79 loss to Schaus’ Boilermakers. Huggs had eight points and three assists in 21 minutes of action that day. “I remember it vividly. We got drilled.”

Huggins certainly hopes the second coaching showdown with a former Mountaineer in the Coliseum goes better than the first.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WV News) — Bob Huggins knows his career is closer to its end than its beginning.

He knows, too, that it's been an interesting ride, even a fun ride for a man who splits his on-court time coaching West Virginia basketball between snarls and smiles.

But every so often there are reminders that life is simply a march through changing times, and one of those reminders comes to the Coliseum on Saturday in the form of a former player from Huggins' his first year at WVU, Darris Nichols, who will coach the Radford Highlanders against his old boss.

One nearing the end, the other starting out. And so it seemed fair to ask Huggins if he would want to be in Nichols' situation right now, beginning his coaching career rather than ending it?

"No," Huggins answered without even stopping to think about.

It isn't that Huggins hasn't changed with the times, because he has, but the changes have taken away what made being involved in college basketball what it was at its best.

"Relationships," Huggins said when asked why he wouldn't want to be starting over. "It's hard. If you can't go out and meet people during recruiting periods and such ... I mean, we have so many people making decisions for us that don't know a damn thing about what we do.

"They don't know about the culture, they don't anything about how those of us who have gotten to where we are got there. They have no clue. I could sit here and name you 20 guys who we kind of grew up together, from being assistants to being maybe a higher paid assistant to being a coach at a smaller school to moving on.

"We were all doing the same thing. We were all together all summer. I know all them guys, but I don't know the new guys ... and probably never will if it continues to go the way it's going with this virtual stuff."

"You used to have a couple of months to recruit. You saw everybody. For instance, you'd go to Vegas four or five days. Then you'd got to Georgia for three days ... and when I say days I'm talking you're there early in the morning until late at night."

And when they were there, they would gather in groups and watch the AAU games.

Yeah, they'd talk about the prospects they were looking at, some they weren't looking at. They'd talk about ones they'd seen that were good and got better and some that were great but lost their way.

It would start with basketball talk, but before long, as with any group, the conversations would stray to other matters, adventures they'd had over the years.

And when they left the gym, the conversations often would carry on over adult beverages far into the night, especially in Vegas, where nothing ever closed, not even their eyes.

"You developed relationships with people," Huggins said.

Think about Dick Vitale and Jimmy Valvano there, about Huggins and John Calipari or Andy Kennedy or whomever made up his wolfpack for the night.

This was life in sports at the time.

No more, and Huggins misses it, as do most of the brotherhood.

The difference?

"Everything is virtual now," Huggins noted. "It's hard to get to know somebody online. I mean, you could walk into the Peach Jam, and the whole one side and the underneath on the other side was full of coaches."

The veteran coaches, of course, ruled the roost, having earned the right by years of success.

New coaches would come out to scout and be intimidated.

"You're a kid and you go in there, and you don't know where to sit. You don't want to take Dean Smith's chair," Huggins said. "It's totally different."

That isn't only true in the world of sports. Certainly, every office workplace has changed, every businessman's business trips.

The computerization of the world started the change, and the Covid-19 pandemic over the past couple of years has magnified the effect.

Travel has been curtailed by the virus and by cuts in staffing and financing, no matter the business, and that includes sports.

Everything has become more of a profession than an avocation. What once was a fun business has become anything but, the personality being taken out of the person.

The characters that sports have created both on the playing fields or on the sidelines are as extinct as dinosaurs, detracting a cultural value from the games we watch and play and the society we live in.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WV News) — With more transfers and late roster additions and subtractions than ever before, getting a read on the way a future football schedule will play out is even more difficult than it used to be, when rosters were far more stable and coaching staffs weren’t flipping like orders of hash browns at the local Waffle House. However, there are a few items of note to highlight, and a couple more to ponder, with the release of West Virginia’s 2022 pigskin slate.

First, and foremost for fans, are two very attendable road games. Short jaunts to Pitt and Virginia Tech should make for full visiting attendance sections at the latter, and much more at the former, if WVU supporters are to hold on to their reputations as road warriors backing their team.

The excitement of opening against Pitt should build anticipation throughout the spring and summer, and although it’s tough to decipher now just what each squad will look like, that shouldn’t lessen what will be one of the better buildups to a season.

WVU and Pitt have faced off 104 times on the football field, but only 10 of those have come in WVU’s season opener, with the Panthers holding a narrow 6-4 lead in those contests.

Three weeks later, it’s a trip to Blacksburg, with the Mountaineers looking to defend the Black Diamond Trophy, which they retook with a 27-21 win this year. Virginia Tech will be one of three teams with a first year head coach that WVU will face in 2022.

In between, WVU hosts Kansas and Towson, and will be favored in both those contests. As in 2021, getting off to a good start will be vital, and the Mountaineers didn’t get that done, starting out the campaign 2-4 before rallying to get to a bowl. A 3-1 record in the first four games of 2022 will be the minimum needed to build improvement, and a 4-0 start would be much better, because the 2022 schedule is backloaded.

That doesn’t necessarily include the first game in October, in which WVU goes to Texas, because the Longhorns continue to be the most overrated program in the country. The Mountaineers are 5-5 against UT in Big 12 play, and shouldn’t have any confidence fears in making that trip, but it will constitute the back end of a pair of consecutive road games.

From there, though, it gets more difficult. WVU hosts Baylor on a Thursday-nighter at home, and it will be interesting to see what attendance and support is like for that mid-week encounter. The Mountaineers and Bears traded Thursday night games in 2018 and 2019, with each team winning at home. WVU then makes the tiring, lengthy trip to Lubbock to face a Texas Tech team that has won three straight against WVU, and that’s one that the Mountaineers will need to win if it has hopes of finishing in the top half of the league.

A home game against TCU, with new head coach Sonny Dykes, could give the chance for back to back wins, but then it’s Iowa State, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Oklahoma State, alternating on the road and at home, to close out the regular season. WVU is just 12-27 against that quartet in Big 12 play, and has to make big jumps in order to be competitive against three of those schools. The potential of that tough finishing stretch makes it all the more important for the Mountaineers to get off to a quality start.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WV News) — The theme that will be played out at the Coliseum when Radford comes to town to face West Virginia's basketball team is one you've seen before in so many different versions that you have to wonder how there could possibly be any new twist to it.

The young, eager pupil finds himself going face to face with his mentor in this tried-and-true story plot, be it in a cinematic format, athletic format, in a cops and robbers format, in a teacher and student format, in a political format or a military format. It is a staple of fiction, but there will be nothing fictional about it when Radford's first-year head coach Darris Nichols matches wits with a cagey veteran of 40 years as a head coach in West Virginia's Bob Huggins.

Certainly, you remember Nichols. He gave four solid years of point guard play to the West Virginia basketball team, solid enough that he even holds an NCAA record for most games played — 141 — without fouling out of a game.

If only Huggins could sit his own Gabe Osabuohien down with Nichols for a chat before Saturday's 4 p.m. game to share some of his secrets.

Now Huggins did not make Nichols into the player he was, nor into the coach he has become, having had him only for his final season. Nichols, who is living out a dream by coaching at Radford, which is in Virginia and is the town in which he grew up, was recruited to WVU by John Beilein.

He played his first three years under him, operating under a totally different system of play. While Huggins was always an in your face, pressing defensive coach whose trademark were teams that intimidated, and always a physical team that would dominate the boards, especially offensively.

Beilein's offense was built off the 3-point shot and a 1-3-1 trapping zone defense.

As Saturday's match up between Huggins' 6-1 Mountaineers and Nichols' 4-4 Radford team approached, the veteran coach took some time out to think about what he saw in Nichols in that first year he had coached back at West Virginia, his alma mater.

"We scrimmaged Virginia. That was the first time we played anybody different, the first time I saw Darris play against anybody different," Huggins recalled. "Darris was the point guard. I wanted to see what Joe Mazzulla could do that day, so I put him in.

Mazzulla would go on to become a memorable point guard for WVU whose performance in the NCAA Tournament against Kentucky to get the Mountaineers to the Final Four when Truck Bryant was injury became the stuff legends are made of.

Not on this day against Virginia in a scrimmage.

"He threw it everywhere and kicked it. He did everything bad you can do," Huggins said. "I was sitting on the bench and he came over and said, 'Take me out. I suck.' I said, 'I know you suck, so I'm not going to take you out.'"

According to Huggins, Nichols was sitting there next to him and began to laugh.

"You think it's funny," he said to Nichols. "You're next."

And that was probably the moment Nichols realized that he was about to learn about a whole different side of coaching methods than Beilein had been using.

"He was great to coach," Huggins said.

Nichols was a thinking man's player, a player who was solid in the fundamentals of the game, a player who was smooth as silk and prided himself as being a coach on the floor.

But after a year playing for Huggins at WVU, Nichols had not yet given up the ghost of a professional playing career overseas. However, he had undergone knee surgery and, instead, trying to make ends meet until the surgery healed and he was back on the floor, he was parking cars at the Waterfront in downtown Morgantown.

That's when Huggins pulled up for an event he was attending.

Coaching, at that moment, was not on Nichols' radar screen, but as the two talked Huggins offered up an alternative path.

"Why don't you come and be my graduate assistant," Huggins said to him. "I think you'd be good at coaching."

Nichols gave it some thought. It wasn't where he saw himself heading, but sometimes that moment where your life is about to change comes along out of nowhere, sneaking up on you from behind.

Parking cars was certainly what he wanted to do, so he took Huggins up on the offer.

"The thing I always tell my players is 'I played for Huggs for one year and it seemed like I was on a job interview every day of that entire year and didn't even know it,'" Nichols told WVU's John Antonik this week. "Imagine if I didn't handle that situation right."

He spent a lot of time in his apprenticeship, serving as an assistant at Northern Kentucky, Wofford, Louisiana Tech and Florida. While at Florida, Nichols returned to the Coliseum just last year to be on a staff that beat Huggins and WVU in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge game.

That is just part of the many subplot twists that include Nichols also having played against Radford for Huggins in a game WVU won, 90-60, in 2008.

Nichols' stamp was all over the game as he scored a career-high 23 points with eight assists to just one turnover. All seven of his field goals were from 3-point range.

But now he is starting his career as a head coach at Radford, which may not be Gonzaga but it also isn't say, Walsh, where Huggins began.

"I'd of been the most excited guy in the world if I could have started at Radford instead of Walsh," Huggins said.

Basketball wasn't even a second thought when Huggins got to Walsh.

"I'm not kidding you, there were eight or nine people in the stands my first game and I think four or five of them were from the Brotherhood of Christian Instruction," Huggins said, only half joking. "They sat there and read a book the first half and left at halftime. That's the gospel truth."

Talk about modest beginnings.

Huggins has developed his persona throughout the years. It's a love him or hate persona, but it's a persona you will not ignore.

So, what trait of his would he wish a player of his to take with him and which of his traits would he hope they avoid?

"The will to win would certainly be the one I'd hope they'd take, and I think they have," Huggins answered. "As for the other one, I make a lot of mistakes. It would be hard to pinpoint one, because I made so many.

"But I'm really proud of over the years is relationships, the one's I've had with my guys. They see when I get on them a little bit -- or maybe a lot -- that they don't really understand relationships. But now they do. A day doesn't go by when I don't hear from one or more of those guys.

"Darris going to be that kind of coach. I don't have any doubt."

Coaching is a people business, Huggins has learned.