By Rusty Udy
For The Register-Herald
The Greenbrier East Lady Spartans rolled into Beckley confident that they could win the Class AAA Region 3 volleyball title.
They made that a reality, defeating George Washington 3-0 in the semifinals and Capital 3-1 in the championship game behind a solid all-around team effort Saturday in Beckley.
“The girls stepped up from the start. We were the No. 1 seed and we came here to do what we were supposed to do,” said a pleased Greenbrier East coach Matt Sauvage. “I am very proud of my girls. We brought our A-game against two very good teams.”
The Lady Spartans disposed of George Washington in the opening match 25-16, 25-22 and 25-21 behind the stellar play of senior Kaitie Shaver.
Shaver set the Lady Spartans’ aggressive tone early in the first game with several huge kills that put the Lady Patriots on their heels. Fellow senior Ellen Henthorn and junior Abby Brown kept the heat on from there with several nice kills and blistering serves.
George Washington struggled all night with the serves from the Lady Spartans and could never seem to mount much offense as a result.
“We had two new servers tonight, sophomores Lauren Lusher and Lindsey Deskins,” Sauvage said. “They got as many points as the others and were key to our success.”
With a trip to Charleston in hand, the Lady Spartans needed to take care of business against Capital to win the championship and for the all-important seeding in the state tournament.
The Lady Spartans came out somewhat flat against Capital and lacked the intensity of the first match. The Lady Cougars broke open a close game to capture win it 25-21.
The intensity returned in Game 2, spearheaded by the fiery emotion of Henthorn and Brown who started the game with a kill leading to a 4-0 run. She had nine service points in the game as East evened the match at 1-1.
Henthorn opened Game 3 with eight straight service points and Brown kept up the pressure with five kills for a 25-18 win. One play in the game truly showed the heart and hustle of the Lady Spartans when libero Abby Morgan made a great diving save, sliding into the Lady Spartan bench area that led to a valuable point for East.
The Lady Spartans fell behind in Game 4 when the serving of Deskins stemmed the tide. Trailing 9-7, Deskins reeled off five straight service points to give East a lead it would not surrender in a tight back-and-forth game that ended on a Brown kill for the championship.
The Lady Spartans now await the announcement of their opponent in this weekends state tournament.
n n n
The Shady Spring Lady Tigers came in facing an uphill battle against the tall front line of Capital. The Lady Tigers showed a lot of fire and refused to go quietly, fighting back in each game. Capital, however, was too much, winning 25-20, 25-18 and 25-19 to secure its place in Charleston for the state tournament.
“The girls played hard,” Lady Tigers head coach Adrienne Brellahan said. “Capital is a very tough team with some tall girls. My girls had their hearts in it; they really wanted it and they played their best. I could not be more proud of them. We fulfilled a lot of our goals this year and I am very happy with them.”