Hardy County Sets for Full State Representation, Moorefield Spikes Past Cougars for Region II Title

BThe Yellow Jackets have been battled tested going toe-to-toe in back-and-forth bouts with East Hardy all season long culminating in an All-Hardy County re-match in the Class A Region II Volleyball Championship round as Moorefield earned back-to-back titles over the Cougars in West Union with straight sets 25-20, 25-23, 25-21.

Moorefield garnered its fourth region championship in program history and joins the Cougars for another opportunity to dance in Charleston.

“We played East Hardy again in the championship, who we lost to in the section championship last week. On our side, it was our turn. We knew what they do and it was our turn to make adjustments and they capitalized on it today. You saw a lot more blocking in the East Hardy game and a lot more swinging. We saw a lot more transition and that’s just what it took to win. At the end of the day, you have to be proud of these girls. They gave us a solid eight sets of hard volleyball, no point was easy. At this point in the season, nothing is easy. I don’t think it has sunk in that they are going to Charleston, because they are completely exhausted,” Moorefield coach Morgan See commented.

“Back in August, we weren’t sure if we would have a season. From the beginning of the season for these girls, our motto was ‘we were going to play every game, every hour, every day and not take it for granted’. We sat out 13 days due to an outbreak at the high school and they would have come in with the outlook that we have fallen behind, but they didn’t. They still had that drive and that desire to keep going and last week was a big wake-up call for them losing to East Hardy. Nobody is going to lay down for you at this point. We had to dig within and find a little more determination to find the reason why. For the seniors to be back in Charleston for a fourth time is exciting. Hopefully we aren’t done yet and still have some play left in us. For Hardy County, you have to be proud of East Hardy and us. There is a lot of good volleyball right here in our county. We have to go down and represent Hardy County well.”

The excitement having both teams returning to the state tournament in Charleston filled the gymnasium with positivity for the entire county.

East Hardy will be going to the state tournament for the 11th time since 2006 and the Yellow Jackets will be making their seventh state appearance.

Having coming off a loss to the Cougars in the section championship two days earlier, Moorefield came in with a different focus and it showed with the enthusiasm on the court as the battle for region supremacy took form in close sets.

Revenge in the region championship didn’t start off as planned for the Yellow Jackets as East Hardy’s SierraMarie Miller blocked a volley by Sterling Kump.[private]

Emily Dyer took a shot for the Cougars, but Moorefield’s Remington Hinkle and Alyson Simmons made the passes to keep the ball in play to setup Kump finishing with a kill by altering the angle past Miller the second time around, then served up an ace for a 2-1 lead.

Moorefield’s Amber Williams notched a dig against Miller and Hinkle’s attack ricocheted out off of Dyer.

East Hardy’s Erin Riggle smashed then all and a serve by Perry Whetzel was returned out to even the set at 3-all.

After an error, Simmons danced the line with a volley for a point.

Riggle attempted three times in a row to make an attack land, but Moorefield’s Kaleigh Hint was there for digs each time, then one more volley was returned into the net as the Cougars took a 5-4 lead.

Dyer delivered an ace and the ensuing serve hit the net, then Gracie O’Neill garnered a spike for the Yellow Jackets tying the set again at 6-all.

After a service error, O’Neill made another kill before Miller pushed the ball through a block attempt by O’Neil for a point.

East Hardy’s Courtney Shank and Gabby Miller made blocks at the net, but the Yellow Jackets managed to keep play alive as O’Neill was quick to punch the ball up and made denials of her own.

Another block by Gabby Miller was redirected into the net by Moorefield and an attack by SierraMarie Miller deflected off a dig by Hunt out of bounds giving East Hardy a 10-7 edge.

An attack by O’Neill ricocheted off the Cougars into the net.

Ames made a service point, then a dig by Williams was sent to Simmons setting for O’Neill to make a volley which found the net.

Moorefield sliced into the deficit as a dig by Ames went backwards out of bounds to the wall off a volley by Hinkle for an 11-10 score.

The Yellow Jackets rally continued as Kump blocked Riggle to tie the set and took the lead on her two kills prior to a timeout.

Coming out of the timeout the buzz could be felt as O’Neill jump served two aces and an attack by Hinkle caromed off the Cougars into the bleachers putting Moorefield up 16-11.

“It really is insane. It makes me so happy to know I have gone to the state tournament all four years. That was my big thing going into this season and we’ve worked our butt off all year. I worked my butt off all four years just for a moment like this and now we’ve come together as a team at the right time. This is one of the best places you can go as a high school senior playing sports,” Moorefield senior Gracie O’Neill remarked.

“We were worried about the possibility of not having a season with COVID-19. You’ve got to take it day by day, practice by practice and point by point, because you don’t know when your last game is going to be. You just have to give it your all. It was insane knowing we were playing East Hardy again. Before the game even started, someone asked why we had to travel all the way to Doddridge County if we were going to play East Hardy again every year. It was a good game and we were hungry to get this one today.”

East Hardy earned two points back on spikes by SierraMarie Miller and Riggle.

Williams made a dig off of Miller and Simmons set for Kump’s attack which was bumped back into the net.

Simmons made a block, but Riggle made the save and was whistled for an infraction near the net trying to lift the ball for a return.

Miller found space to land the ball, then the teams made good volleys before the Cougars had a shot go awry.

Moorefield boosted the lead to 21-14 on a pair of aces by Williams and timeout was called.

Riggle sandwiched two spikes around a hitting error by the Yellow Jackets after a dig by Hunt.

There were service errors both ways surrounding an ace by Hinkle for a 23-18 score.

Whetzel and Ames made digs, then Riggle set for Miller to hammer the ball down.

Riggle served up an ace to cut the deficit to 23-20.

An attack by Simmons ricocheted off a dig by Ames and an attack by O’Neill was returned into the net to close out the set for the Yellow Jackets, 25-20.

“It was so great that everyone came together, even the freshmen. They played big today. It was a good day to get revenge on East Hardy from the section. To come back and beat them in three was such a good feeling. It means everything to me to return to Charleston. This is what we have been working for and to see the sophomores and freshmen want it as much as we want it. It took some motivation, but now they are hungry as we are,” Moorefield senior Alyson Simmons observed.

Starting the second set of the championship, East Hardy’s SierraMarie Miller’s serve was returned out of bounds.

An attack by Moorefield’s Gracie O’Neill was bumped by Whetzel and Ames back into the net, then O’Neill served into the net.

Shank served and it was return day Simmons, then Hinkle made attacks which were met by digs from Riggle and Ames saving a potential point.

Amber Williams notched a point for the Yellow Jackets with a kill tying the set at 2-all.

Simmons blocked a shot and Williams delivered two aces for a 5-2 advantage.

The Cougars responded as Riggle made two kills and Gabby Miller added another to even the set.

Moorefield went up 9-6 on a block by Kump, then Simmons served into the net.

East Hardy notched two points on spikes by Miller surrounding a kill by O’Neill.

After a service error, Dyer notched a point off an attack and Shank made a block which ricocheted off of Hinkle out of bounds giving East Hardy a 12-11 lead.

The Cougars had an attack land in the net, then a serve by Moorefield went awry.

Miller spiked the ball twice and the Yellow Jackets hit the ball out of play as East Hardy took 16-13 edge.

The Yellow Jackets respond with a kill by Hinkle, but the ensuing serve went into the net.

Williams made a save on an attack by Miller, who followed up with a kill moments later.

Riggle served an ace, then Hunt made a dig and Simmons set for Kump to slam the ball.

Hunt’s dig on Riggle’s volley caromed out of play.

Moorefield sliced the deficit on a block by Kump and her next serve was not returned, 20-17.

Miller’s attack was blocked out of bounds by Kump, then Ames served up an ace for the Cougars.

East Hardy wasn’t able to close out the second set despite having a 22-17 lead.

After a kill by O’Neill, there were a couple of errors in both directions before Hinkle made a block to cut the deficit to 23-22 and timeout was called.

Two serves by O’Neill were returned into the net as the Yellow Jackets snatched the lead and timeout was called again, then O’Neill finished the set with an ace to go up 2-nil in the Region II Championship match, 25-23.

An attack by the Yellow Jackets went out of bounds for the first point of the third set, then East Hardy’s SierraMarie Miller delivered an ace.

Hinkle garnered the first point for Moorefield on a kill, then Kump went to the service line and Whetzel made a dig and Ames set for Riggle to launch a spike.

“It’s very special to be able to make it to Charleston this year because our team has had to work really hard to get to where we are today. Being able to make it this year is special, because some teams aren’t able to continue their season with COVID in their way,” East Hardy senior Erin Riggle noted.

Shank served and the ball was passed from Kump to Williams over to Simmons for a kill.

Williams served this time and Whetzel made a dig, then Ames set for Riggle recording a kill to put the Cougars ahead 4-2.

An attack by Simmons was greeted by a block from Gabby Miller, but landed in the net in favor of the Yellow Jackets.

Moorefield’s McKenna Crites came in to serve and the ball was returned out of bounds, but the ensuing serve went awry.

Simmons had a dig sail back over the net and it was met with a dig by Dyer which careened into the net.

Simmons served into the net, then Whetzel had a serve met with a dig by Williams and saved by Hunt.

SierraMarie Miller slammed the ball for a kill, then O’Neill’s made an attack and the dig by Whetzel ricocheted out of play with East Hardy holding a 7-6 lead.

An attack by Ames was returned out for a Cougars point, but Moorefield collected the next marker on a block by Kump on Miller.

Hinkle’s shot was deflected out off a dig by Whetzel and Williams made a tap at the net with the Cougars touching the net on defense as Moorefield went back ahead.

“”It’s a very special feeling to be returning to the state tournament as a senior. We’ve all worked very hard throughout the season to achieve our goal of making another state tournament appearance. I’m very proud of all our girls and extremely thankful to be making back to back state appearances,” East Hardy senior Perry Whetzel said.

Hinkle, Simmons, Kump and O’Neill made spikes and there were a series of errors helping the Yellow Jackets fly up to a 21-13 advantage.

East Hardy got back into a groove as Miller had an initial attack deflected over the bench despite a dive by O’Neill, then landed two kills to cut the deficit to 21-16.

Shank made a dig off a tap by Kump, but Riggle couldn’t corral the scoop.

A serve by Hunt was met with a dig by Dyer which sailed back over the net and found the floor for a point.

Miller blocked O’Neill, who adjusted the next volley with a push which carried the ball out of play for a 22-19 score.

An attack by Miller was fielded by Crites with the ricochet going over too the bench where O’Neill ushered the ball back to the court not being returned,

After an error by the Cougars, Miller’s attack was redirected out of bounds on a dig by Hinkle, 23-21.

Hinkle notched a kill, then Simmons finished the championship match point with a spike, 25-21.

The Yellow Jackets jumped in celebration claiming the Region II crown for back-to-back seasons over East Hardy and in straight sets to answer the section title match by the same amount.

“We’re very excited. These girls have put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears for this state tournament berth. For them to have a chance to compete in Charleston next week is really special. They have come a long way. I thought our upperclassmen played tremendous and weren’t going to be denied. Based on scores and experience having played Moorefield three times, we knew we were pretty good and they gave us all we wanted. We knew they were pretty good too,” East Hardy assistant coach Chris Hahn remarked.

East Hardy defeated Clay-Battelle in straight sets 25-14, 25-15 and 25-18 during the Region II semifinals to earn the state tournament berth and a rematch against the Yellow Jackets in the championship.

“It is an honor to be able to return and participate in the state tournament. We work really hard as a team and it is a great feeling to have our hard work play off,” East Hardy senior SierraMarie Miller stated.

Moorefield had its hands full battling against host Doddridge County going the distance of a fifth set tiebreaker in the other semifinal to determine which team would survive and advance to Charleston. The Yellow Jackets arose to victory by the scores of 25-17, 18-25, 25-21, 16-25 and 15-10 to punch the ticket to the state tournament.

“You drive here and it took a little time to adjust getting off the bus. They were relaxed and you go into that first game and it was intense. If you win, you punch your ticket. If you lose, your season is done. You’re back to the nerves and being anxious and not in getting into the groove, but they kept fighting. We won the first one, then came back and dropped the next one, but they fought back. They worked hard and worked together. Their communication lacked a little, but once we started working together and communicating, everything started jiving and we started swinging better and end up winning in five to play East Hardy again in the championship,” Coach See added.

Moorefield and East Hardy will be in Charleston this Thursday for the state tournament featuring a single day format this season.[/private]