Philip Barbour and Shady Spring again stood at the top of the Class AA volleyball world in 2022.
Meeting for the third straight year in the AA championship match, the Colts bested the Tiger 3-1 to win back-to-back titles.
Shady Spring won the initial championship meeting in 2020 between the two schools before dropping a wild 3-2 thriller in 2021.
For Philip Barbour it was the fifth championship since 2015 when it ran off three titles in a row before falling in the 2018 title match to Bridgeport.
The only year the Colts did not make the finals in the last eight years was 2019 when the Tigers knocked them out in the semifinals in another five-set classic between the two titans.
Shady Spring's runner-up finish this year was its fourth straight trip to the title match.
"It is one of those friendly rivalries until you get on the floor and then it is just a dogfight from the beginning until the end," Shady Spring head coach Kelly Williams said. "When we beat them in the semifinals [in 2019], that is one of my great memories because it was like my girls finally got over the hump. They needed to do that and feel that success."
"Philip Barbour is always in the mix and for the two of us to battle it out in the biggest game of the year, says a lot about both programs," Williams went on to say. "I have the utmost respect for their team and coaches. It is just a great team to play. You want to play them as much as you can. It has been a half-and-half, but it seems like the losses for us come in the big games where it hurts a little more."
Four standouts from the 2022 championship match anchor the Class AA all-state volleyball first team as chosen by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Meg Williams from Shady Spring was named first team captain for the second straight season along with teammate Chloe Thompson.
Williams earned first team honors for the fourth consecutive season, while Thompson joined her for the second year in a row.
Both standouts surpassed 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs for their careers this season and are headed to Concord University next year.
Williams had 550 kills, 64 aces, 136 blocks and 417 digs in 2022. Thompson blasted 533 winners and had 383 digs in her senior campaign.
"Both of those two girls are very humble girls and they know that they could not have had the success that they have had without their teammates," Williams said. "They have taken every opportunity to learn from their teammates and learn from coaches. They have spent countless hours in the gym and have been extremely hard workers."
The first team dynamic duo that led the Colts this year was senior Emily Denison and sophomore Mackenna Halfin.
Denison also caps her career with a four-year run as a member of the AA first team. Over the regular season she recorded 578 kills, 135 blocks and 512 digs.
The talented senior exits the high school stage with two state championships and one runner-up. Along the way she has groomed the young sophomore who she hopes can bring home two more titles to Philippi.
"Mackenna has truly been my little sibling since I started playing this game. [Coach] Halfin asked me when she came up as a freshman to bring her under my wing. I truly want her to learn from all of my mistakes because I have only been able to feel two of these [state titles] and now I am done," Denison said after the state championship match. "[Mackenna] has been able to feel two of these and she has two more to go. I am just trying to teach her everything I have been able to learn lately, so she can take advantage of it."
Halfin, who is a setter's dream with her ability to shift her body and adjust to balls, drilled 525 winners to go along with 106 blocks and 425 digs. In her freshman season she was named AA second team captain.
Earning first team honors for the second year in a row were senior Sydney Shamblin from Herbert Hoover, as well as juniors Ashlyn Six from Oak Glen and Gabby Elliott from Wayne.
Shamblin was second in the state with 722 kills and Six recorded 462 kills. Elliott dropped 485 winners and blistered 227 aces to lead the state.
After earning second team honors last year, Avery Childers from Robert C. Byrd and Gabby Floyd from Liberty Harrison closed out their stellar careers as first team all-state players.
Childers was a strong player all around for the Eagles with 384 assists, 276 kills, 109 solo blocks, 320 digs and 62 aces. Floyd helped lead her team to the state tournament this year with 340 kills, 234 digs, 80 blocks and a 96.6 serving percentage.
Scott senior libero, Jenna Butcher rounds out the first team selections. Butcher controlled the back line for the Skyhawks averaging more than 21 digs per match.
Philip Barbour's senior leader, Averi Carpenter was named captain of the second team, along with fellow seniors, Madison Jones from Winfield and Arin Lease from Frankfort.
The remaining seven members of the second team are all underclassmen.
Camille Testerman from Shady Spring leads the trio of juniors followed by Hannah Harden from PikeView and Mahailey Nicholson from Roane County.
Three sophomores also made the second group including Herbert Hoover's Ashton Henrich, Oak Glen's McKenzi Martin and Independence standout, Aubree Cantrell.
The lone freshman to be named among the top 20 players in class AA was Carli Raye from Wyoming East. Raye helped lead the Warriors to the regional round with 322 kills and 237 solo blocks which was second most in the Mountain State.