By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Woodrow Wilson’s Shirley Brown has coached some superb AAA South teams over the years in the North-South All-Star Volleyball Tournament.
But even she was surprised at just how good her team was Sunday, when it swept through its opposition at the Woodrow Wilson High School gym.
“In the 11 years, this is probably the best team all-around,” Brown said. “We’ve had dynamic hitters, and we’ve had dynamic defense. But today we had the whole package.”
Two players in particular excelled wherever they were on the court. State player of the year Cassie Weaver, from Cabell Midland, was as adept digging balls out of the air from the back row as she was pounding it from up front.
“Cassie was great to play with,” Greenbrier East libero Cassie Ford said of her namesake. “She’s awesome on the court, and awesome away from the court.”
Alexis Mourier, from AAA state champion George Washington, was just as good, hitting with authority or using her lanky size to make improbable saves.
Woodrow Wilson setter Emily Ernest said it was “phenomenal” how well Mourier played. Flying Eagles middle blocker-hitter Anne Patterson added, “I wish I could hit like Lexi.”
The AAA South stars never lost a game. They opened with a 2-0 win over AA-A South, and matched it with a quick two-game decision over AA-A North.
They started slowly, however, in their final match of the day, trailing AAA North 8-1 in the early going.
Earlier, AAA North lost to AA-A North, and had blown match point against AA-A South, 24-22 to force a third and final game.
Brown thought her team might have been overconfident against AAA North, which was propelled early by Parkersburg hitters Paige Warner and Imani Ward.
“I think they took it for granted they’d win. They had already beaten two teams, and both of them had beaten AAA North (at least one game),” Brown said. “You never know about girls. But when they got ready to play, they came out on fire.”
South closed the gap to 13-10, then reeled off 15 of the next 20 points to win 25-22.
Mourier and Weaver were outstanding in the win.
Patterson stepped up in the final game, at one point getting a kill, a block and another kill in a row, as South won 25-15.
“We started talking more, and we began getting our passes up so the hitters could do their thing,” Patterson said.
“We’re competitors,” Ford said. “We’re all winners on our team. We came back and won.”
Ernest, who had a good number of assists on the afternoon, loved every minute with the South stars.
“It was like a different caliber of volleyball,” she said. “It’s like the ‘Dream Team.’”
n The AA-A South team didn’t have as many big hitters as AA-A North or the AAA teams, and often struggled in its matches.
But coach Kerie Lopez of Greater Beckley Christian thought the main problem was lack of communication between the players.
“This was really a group of quiet girls. Only one or two would periodically communicate,” she said.
Still, the team had its moments, and several players had good matches.
“I really liked (hitter) Rebekah Baldwin from Sissonville, and Simone Assaley from Charleston Catholic had some amazing saves out of the net,” Lopez said. “I also liked how our libero (Lauren Young from Nicholas County) played.”
The losses didn’t really matter, she added.
“It’s always fun to let high school seniors finish out their careers with a long day of volleyball.”
— E-mail: dstillwell@