Eagles Clip Knights in Finals
Tyler Consolidated and Magnolia had met six times this season prior to Saturday’s state tournament Class A championship match. The Blue Eagles owned a 5-1 record against the Knights this year, but ask anyone who watched them, and most would say they were evenly matched and perhaps the two best teams in their class.
Both teams advanced to the finals on Saturday with two wins in their bracket on Friday. Eight teams started the tournament, but after Friday’s action, the last two standing were the Silver Knights and the Blue Eagles, setting up the big showdown. The neighboring counties were out in force for the match, but as always, only one team can come out the winner. On Saturday, it was again Magnolia with a three set (25-23, 25-22 and 25-8) victory, to claim Coach Pam Chapman’s first ever title.
Magnolia ended its season with a 46-7-1 record, while the Silver Knights ended a successful 2018 campaign at 35-14. Magnolia jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the first set, but Tyler fought back to keep the set respectable. The Blue Eagles, with the power hitting of Kyndra Pilant and Mady Winters, kept the lead throughout the set and went up 12-4, but the Silver Knights rattled off four straight. Later, a service point for Magnolia made it 19-11. The Knights, however, came right back, scoring four straight points behind the serving of Madison DeVaughn and two kills by Emily Lancaster.
The Knights closed to within 22-20 on a Magnolia error. The Blue Eagles tallied a point on a kill by Pilant, and Tyler squared things at 23 on a service ace from Peyton Kocher, forcing a Magnolia time out.
When play resumed, a net serve by the Knights gave the Blue Eagles a 24-23 set point lead. Magnolia got the next point on a Winters kill to take set one. The first set win seemed to set the tone for the rest of the match as the Lady Eagles took an early lead in the second set, 4-1, but Tyler came back to make it 4-3 before the Blue Eagles got five kills from Kyndra Pilant for an 11-3 lead. Magnolia then went on another run to up the score to 13-7, but another run for the Knights made it 14-12.
Pilant then took over, getting four straight kills to make it 17-12. Alexa Johnson added a kill for the Silver Knights, and they drew to within 17-16. Two more points from Magnolia made it 19-16. Tyler got a point on a Magnolia net serve, and the score stood at 19-17. Winters and Pilant each got a kill, and Magnolia added an ace serve to go up 22-17.
The Silver Knights rallied one more time in the set to get to within one at 23-22 before the Blue Eagles put it away with a kill from Winters and an error from the Knights for the 25-22 win.
Up 2-0, the Lady Eagles went for the knock-out punch in the third set as they jumped ahead early and never looked back, enroute to a convincing 25-8 win to take the state title.
The Blue Eagles ran the table at Charleston as they knocked off each of their opponents in straight sets. Their first match on Friday was a clinic as they destroyed Greater Beckley Christian to the tune of 25-9, 25-12 and 25-10. In their next match against Parkersburg Catholic, a team who had beaten them early in the year, the Blue Eagles showed their dominance, winning 25-14, 25-13 and 25-16.
The Silver Knights breezed through the first round with Greenbriar West, winning in straight sets 25-17, 25-17 and 25-11. However, in their semi-final match with the Williamstown Yellowjackets, the Knights ran into a buzz saw and lost the first set big, 13-25. Tyler Coach Richard Summers rallied his troops, and in set two, they took control and got a 25-19 win to even the series.
The third and pivotal set was a barn burner with the Knights gaining control on a couple close line calls to take the upper hand, 2-1, with a 25-23 win. Williamstown won set four, 18-25, sending it to a deciding fifth set. The Silver Knights started strong in the set and went up 4-0, before giving up a point. They then got 11 points, to the Jackets’ six, for the 15-7 match win.
During the match with the Yellowjackets, Tyler Consolidated seniors JoLee Walton and Alexa Johnson both reached milestones in their careers. Walton surpassed 2,000 assists, and Johnson got her 1000th kill.
“This team has been a pleasure to coach the past four years. We are going to miss our seniors, but we have several quality players coming back. We’ll work hard and be prepared to go with what we have next season. I look for some of these kids to step up big for us. It was certainly disappointing to come home without the championship, but I am very proud of this team. They played hard and gave it everything they had. That’s all you can ask from them,” Coach Richard Summers said. “There were some great teams in this tournament, and to be in the finals says something about this team. Magnolia has a nice team; we knew we had our work cut out for us. We made some nice runs in the match, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
“Some of our girls really stepped up down here. Against Williamstown, we rode our sophomore Regan Smith most of the match. She had 10 kills, three blocks, five points and six digs, and that was really the key for us in that win. Josey Jones, who always plays big, added 12 kills and 18 digs, 11 points, plus three blocks, to help get us to the finals,” added Coach Summers.
In the win over Greenbriar West, Jones had 16 kills, 12 digs, six digs and an ace. She controlled the net with Johnson who had 12 kills, four blocks and two digs. Johnson got her 1000th dig in the third set of the match. Walton showed her All-State skills with 33 assists, eight digs, and 10 points including two aces. She recorded her 2000th assist in the second set. Senior Emily Lancaster had seven kills, four blocks, and three digs; Smith added three kills, two blocks, five digs, and seven points.
Madison DeVaughn, scored seven service points, including four aces. Senior libero Peyton Kocher came in with 16 points, 11 digs and one assist, plus two aces. Cora Grimm got two points and two digs, while Sadie Nichols had three digs. Caleigh Phillips got a block and a dig.
Against Williamstown, Johnson had a big game with 13 digs, six blocks and two digs. Lancaster also worked the net well to help Jones, Johnson, and Smith as she got six kills and four blocks to go along with four digs. Victoria Hood had five blocks and a dig, and Allie Miller got two digs.
Senior back row player Cora Grimm, who’s been a steady force all season, had a huge game with a block, 16 digs and five points. Kocher turned in another fine performance with 20 digs, nine points and three aces. DeVaughn got an ace, 14 points and 12 digs. Walton filled up the stat book with 35 assists, 11 points including three aces, and seven digs.