Oak Glen spikes Ritchie for repeat AA volleyball championship
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Oak Glen coach Ethel Riser usually sits back and lets her players take control.
It was no different Saturday morning as the Golden Bears dispatched Ritchie County 25-16, 25-16, 25-19 to claim their second straight Class AA championship at the state high school volleyball tournament at the Civic Center.
Oak Glen captured its fifth title to go along with championships in 1997-98, 2008 and 2011. The Golden Bears finished runner-up in 1980, 2000 and 2006.
"That's what we've already said, I've never done three-peats so let's try that one,'' Riser said. "They're such a close-knit team and that teamwork has to be a major part of it.
"They talk to each other. When you're sitting down here you can hear them, 'Go, go, go. No, it's back. It's in.' They're helping each other call everything on every ball. I don't have to do a lot. They do that for me.''
After Ritchie County scored the first four points of the opening game, Oak Glen went ahead 8-7 and never trailed the rest of the game. Junior Morgan Poling's kill gave the first game to the Golden Bears at 25-16. The Rebels committed 13 unforced errors.
In the second game Ritchie County continued to self-destruct with 11 unforced errors as Oak Glen rolled 25-16. The Rebels made a short-lived stand in the third game, taking the lead at 13-12, but junior Vanessa Hissam's kill put the Golden Bears back on top at 16-15 and Poling's kill delivered the coup de grace for a 25-19 victory.
Oak Glen senior Sydney Kell turned in 17 kills, two aces and 13 assists while Hissam finished with 10 kills and six blocks, senior Lacee Porter added 11 points and eight kills and Poling had eight points, 10 kills and six blocks. Poling, Porter, Golden Bears seniors Abby Tice and Kaitlyn Smith were all-tournament selections.
Rebels senior Veronica Mueller had two aces and 14 digs, freshman Kenna DeLancey pitched in 13 kills and senior Olivia Haught had 25 assists. Ritchie County sophomore Vanessa Tallman chipped in 21 digs and senior Amanda Davis had six blocks and 11 digs. DeLancey, and Ritchie County seniors Cassidy Ray and Tristin Toman received all-tournament honors.
Ritchie County lost for the second straight year in the finals to Oak Glen.
"I'm very proud of them,'' said Ritchie County coach Melanie Allender. "They've worked hard to get here. The beginning of our year wasn't anything where anybody thought we'd be here. My seniors were here last year and wanted it so bad. It just didn't click and go their way. It's heart-breaking.''
Oak Glen's Riser loses four seniors to graduation, including three all-tournament picks.
"I have some really good kids that are coming in to play,'' she said. "They're working with them every day so that's a good possibility [of a three-peat].''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.