Oak Glen sweeps Hoover for third AA vollyball title in a row
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Herbert Hoover overcame adversity at every turn this season, but it was too much to ask of the Huskies to do it one more time against tried and tested Oak Glen in Saturday afternoon's Class AA state volleyball championship.
The Golden Bears rolled to their third straight title with a dominating straight-sets victory over Hoover 25-18, 25-11, 25-14 at the Charleston Civic Center.
The Huskies, No. 5 in the latest RSNsports.com AA rankings, were playing in only their second volleyball final in school history, with the first coming in 1996, which was also a state runner-up finish in AAA to Woodrow Wilson. Hoover, which opened in 1963 as a consolidation of Clendenin and Elkview high schools, has never won a girls team championship.
Hoover dropped its first set of Friday's opening round to No. 3 Ritchie County before rallying to win the next three. The Huskies then fell behind Robert C. Byrd in the semis 2-1 before taking the last two sets.
"I felt like we had a hard time recovering from [Friday],'' said third-year Hoover coach Anita King, a former Huskies standout. "Oak Glen played some of the best volleyball of the state tournament.
"They were hitting the line shots and I mean hitting the line at an angle. We were working the backcourt and trying to hit the back line and we would miss it by inches. We played the best volleyball of our state tournament [Friday] night.''
Top-ranked Oak Glen, located in New Cumberland in Hancock County in the tip Northern Panhandle, dropped one set en route to its sixth championship to go along with titles in 1997, 1998, 2008, 2011 and 2012.
"We just played our relaxed game and kept our heads cool,'' said Oak Glen coach Ethel Riser. "We didn't get upset if [Hoover] got a point. [Our players have] done the drills in practice and they know what to do. When they get on the court, my job is basically done.''
Hoover was always playing catch up with the Golden Bears and was never able to gain any momentum.
"It was tough,'' Hoover senior Hannah King said of Oak Glen. "They can play some ball. They put the ball where it needed to go. We weren't hitting it strong.''
Hoover had to juggle its lineup this year as senior setter Hope Johnson didn't become eligible until last month, but then the Huskies lost 5-foot-10 Kaylee Wehrle to an infection.
The Huskies advanced to states the previous two seasons but lost in the first round each time. Hoover, which fell to Oak Glen during the regular season, claimed the Cardinal Conference and regional titles this season.
"It was an awesome season,'' said Hannah King, Huskies coach Anita King's niece and an all-tournament selection. "Every practice was a practice for the state tournament.
"Every game was played hard. We're proud to say we got past the first game [of the state tournament]. It was a thrill. Something I'll always remember. I think if they keep practicing hard like we did this year they'll have a chance to come back next year.''
Hoover junior Allison Rager and sophomore Ashton King, the coach's daughter, were also chosen to the all-tournament team. Golden Bears seniors Morgan Poling and Vanessa Hissam and sophomore Alexandra Arnott were all-tournament picks along with Philip Barbour senior Nikki Shriver, Independence senior Brooke Foley and RCB senior Denise Adkins. RCB also claimed the sportsmanship award.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.