The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 2, 2012

North-South volleyball games bring the best to Beckley

By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer

— Some people throw parties.

Shirley Brown hosts a volleyball tournament.

The annual North-South All-Star Games are at noon today at Woodrow Wilson High School. Top high school seniors from around the state will compete.

It’s the last get-together of the year for the state’s volleyball community. Many of the best high school coaches in the state will join with their seniors one final time, while several college coaches will also be in attendance, looking for potential players.

“It’s our 11th year, and it’s a thrill to have it,” said Brown, the longtime Woodrow head coach. “We’ve got a really good field this year.”

There will be four divisions — AAA North, AA-A North, AAA South and AA-A South.

Brown is tournament director, and will also coach the AAA South team. Choosing players was very difficult because of a really talented senior field.

“We had 28 girls to choose from, and any of the 28 could have played,” she said. “It’s the hardest year for getting it down, but we narrowed it to 12 players. All of them are standouts.”

Local AAA players include Greenbrier East libero Cassie Ford, Oak Hill middle Madison Smith and Woodrow Wilson’s senior duo of hitter Anne Patterson and setter Emily Ernest.

“We had our banquet (Thursday), and we told Anne and Emily it would be a fun weekend, and one last time to coach you before you leave us,” Brown said. “It will be really special.”

The South also has four players from AAA champion George Washington, and state player of the year Cassie Weaver from Cabell Midland.

Brown will coach the squad with her Woodrow assistant, Sharon Pinardo, plus George Washington’s Missy Smith, Greenbrier East’s Matt Sauvage and Cabell Midland’s Cindy Machmer.

She couldn’t be more delighted to work with them.

“They’re really good people as well as good coaches,” Brown said. “I’ve been friends with Missy and Cindy since they started coaching. It’s always a thrill for Sharon and I to coach with them.”

While there has been some occasional acrimony in the past between Woodrow and Greenbrier East coaches in other sports, that’s definitely not the case in volleyball.

“I consider Matt to be a really good friend,” Brown said. “It’s really nice when you can coach with people you really like.”

Two other veteran coaches, Kerie Lopez from Greater Beckley Christian and Marie Shaffer from Nicholas County, will lead the AA-A squad.

Local players include Fayetteville’s Jessica Brown, Greater Beckley’s Maria Carter, Kelsey Hart from Independence, Haley Pioch from Liberty, Shayla Stear and Lauren Young from Nicholas County and PikeView’s Holly Mack.

Longtime Parkersburg coach Carl Harnish, who has 10 state championships under his belt, will lead the AAA North team along with Corby and Sarah Stalnaker from Ripley.

“Carl really enjoys coaching in this tournament,” Brown said.

Tyler Consolidated’s Richard and Tracy Summers, and Philip Barbour’s Heather Haflin, are the coaches for the AA-A North team, which includes Abigail Tice and Lacee Porter from Class AA state champion Oak Glen, and Brooke Cieslewski and Carley Ellison from Class A champion Williamstown.

Aside from the camaraderie, the tournament also offers college coaches a chance to see players from obscure schools.

“After it’s over, they swarm the girls,” Brown said. “A few years ago we had seven players who committed that day to different colleges.”

— E-mail: dstillwell@register-herald.com