POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — No waiting around for a second one.
The Point Pleasant volleyball team — which claimed the program’s first-ever sectional title just one year ago — repeated the feat on Thursday inside its home gymnasium, as the top-seeded Lady Knights defeated second-seeded guest Winfield by a 3-1 tally in the Class AA Region IV, Section 1 championship match.
Point Pleasant (12-9) was down 6-0 at the start of the opening game, but fought back, tying it up three times before finally taking its first lead at 23-22. The Lady Knights didn’t trail again in the opener, winning 25-23.
The hosts took the lead at 4-3 in Game 2 and didn’t trail again, fighting through six ties on their way to the 25-21 win.
PPHS scored the first five points of the third set, and was up 9-6 when Winfield (18-8) went on an 18-to-4 run for a 25-13 victory, forcing a fourth game.
After a pair of early lead changes in the fourth, Point Pleasant stretched its lead to four points, at 15-11, and again at 16-12. The Lady Generals regained the edge with a 6-0 spurt, but the Lady Knights rallied back and claimed the lead for good at 22-21. Winfield fought off match-point once, but ultimately fell 25-22, ending the Lady Generals’ nine-match winning streak.
Following the match, sixth-year PPHS head coach Marla Cottrill talked about her approach to the tournament, and noted some of the challenges her team has battled through on the way to a second straight sectional title.
“I tell the girls every year that it’s practice until sectionals,” Coach Cottrill said. “In volleyball it doesn’t matter what your record is, who you beat, or who you lost to, we actually lost to Winfield earlier in the season. This season is full of challenges, but they’ve stepped up and done the job when it’s needed to be done, and that’s the most important part.
“We came into this season without a setter, Olivia (Dotson) graduated last year and went to Glenville. Baylie Rickard had never set before, she stepped up, and she has gotten better as the season’s gone. Tristan Wilson, she’s a beast, and Addy Cottrill stepped up this game and did what she had to do, all the girls did, they moved very well.”
Katelynn Smith led the Lady Knights’ service with 12 points, including six aces. Kianna Smith was next 11 points and an ace, followed by Brooke Warner with 10 points and a pair of aces. Rickard collected five points and two aces, Addy Cottrill claimed three points, while Wilson ended with two service points in the win.
Leading Point Pleasant at the net, Wilson had 17 kills and two blocks, while Cottrill picked up 15 kills and three blocks. Rickard finished with two kills, one block and a team-best 30 assists for PPHS. Kianna Smith had a kill and a block for the victors, Warner added a kill, while Kierra Smith came up with a block.
Leading Winfield, Erin Signorelli and Mya Williams had 11 service points apiece. Jordan Signorelli was next with 10 points, followed by Jillian Fluharty with eight, Stella Kincaid with four, and Alexee Powell with three.
Point Pleasant now moves on to the regional round for the third time in five seasons — also winning last season’s sectional by a 3-1 count against the Lady Generals, while advancing as sectional runner-up in 2016.
The Lady Knights enter the Region IV championship semifinals as the top seed in the Section 1 draw — meaning they will face the Section 2 runner-up in the opening round of the single elimination tournament.
The Region IV tournament will be held at Winfield High School on Saturday at 6 p.m.
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Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.