For the second year in a row, the Class AA volleyball state title match came down to a clash between defending champion Shady Spring and Philip Barbour.
After losing to the Tigers in a five-set semifinal thriller in 2019 and again in the 2020 championship match, the Colts finally defeated their nemesis from Raleigh County for the 2021 crown.
The match was another five-set classic with the Colts winning the final set 15-13.
“I told them this is the hardest 15 points of your life, so you have to go hard. For the seniors this is it,” Philip Barbour head coach Heather Halfin said after the championship match. “That is why I started crying at the end. It’s bittersweet. You want to spend as much time as you can with them. They become like family to you.”
Loaded with returning all-state players, Shady Spring and Philip Barbour again dominated the 2021 Class AA All-State volleyball team as chosen by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
The captain of the 2021 team is Shady Spring junior Meg Williams, who makes her third straight appearance on the first team. After missing a portion of the season with an injury, Williams returned to collect 273 kills, 60 total blocks and 31 aces in 65 sets played.
Philip Barbour senior Alyssa Hill and junior teammate Emily Denison are also first-team honorees for the third season in a row.
Hill, who was captain of the AA team last year, capped the regular season with 319 kills, topping 1,000 for her career. She also had 45 aces and 75 blocks on the year.
Dennison also surpassed 1,000 career kills this year with 284 during the season. She also had 38 aces and 106 blocks.
Shady Spring setter Kelsie Dangerfield was a first-team selection for the second year in a row after being named to the second team as a sophomore. Dangerfield had 916 assists on the year, pushing her past 2,000 for her career. She also had 220 digs, 53 aces and 179 kills.
The third first-team selection for the Colts was junior Averi Carpenter, who was a second-team selection last year. Carpenter was stellar this season with 333 digs and 78 aces.
Junior Chloe Thompson was Shady’s third first-team selection after earning a second-team nod last year. Thompson was a force on the outside for Shady with 437 kills and a .391 hitting efficiency.
Herbert Hoover’s Sydney Shamblin completed the trio of juniors that made the move from second team to first team this year.
Missing 19 sets with an ankle injury, Shamblin still recorded 271 kills and was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association Phenom Watch List.
The final junior named to the first team for 2021 was Hayley Hovious from Winfield. Considered the team’s best player and the leading scorer, Hovious had 261 kills, 39 aces and 30 blocks.
Rounding out the first-team selections are two sophomores, Ashlyn Six from Oak Glen and Gabby Elliot from Wayne.
Six was a big factor in leading the Bears to the semifinal round of the state tournament. During the regular season she had 392 kills, 48 aces and 199 digs.
Elliot was equally impressive all the way around with 305 kills, 146 aces and 251 digs.
Philip Barbour freshman MacKenna Halfin, daughter of the Colts’ head coach, captains the second team.
Joining Halfin on the second team are Kyra Davis (Independence), Payton Shreve (Grafton), Gabby Floyd (Liberty-Harrison), Brinlee Harris (Herbert Hoover), Ally Morris (Berkeley Springs), Jaci Smith (Frankfort), Peydon Smith (Shady Spring), Ashton Henrich (Herbert Hoover) and Avery Childers (Robert C. Byrd).