KIDWELL - If you ask Tyler Consolidated volleyball coach Richard Summers his thoughts on the West Virginia Class AA, Section One tournament, he will tell you that he feels it is one of the most brutal in the state.
And anyone who doesn't believe it can not only look back on Tuesday night's action, but ahead to Thursday where things could get very interesting with the championship on the line.
Summers and his Silver Knights brought the No. 1 seed into the tournament, but it was Oak Glen that left the biggest mark, advancing to the regional and standing one victory away from the sectional crown.
After advancing to the winner's bracket by virtue of a victory against Magnolia, the Golden Bears captured a four-game, 25-23, 10-25, 25-21, 25-13 victory against Tyler Consolidated on Tuesday night at Tyler Consolidated High School.
With the top two teams in the sectional moving on to Saturday's regional at Ritchie County High School, Coach Ethel Riser's group has already punched its ticket.
However, there is still business at hand on Thursday. The Silver Knights will battle Magnolia at 5 p.m., not only for the right to play Oak Glen in the ensuing match, but also for the coveted second regional berth.
The Bears will need just one victory to capture the title while the survivor of the opener will need to win two.
''Right now we are sitting in a pretty good position,'' Riser said. ''The only problem is that we have to come back down here and beat either Magnolia or Tyler again on Thursday.
''We have gotten so used to playing Tyler, but they have a big rivalry with Magnolia and anything can happen in that game.''
Tyler dominated early against Oak Glen, eventually building the biggest lead of the game at 17-11. However, the Bears battled back, outscoring the hosts by a 14-6 margin the rest of the game to score the victory and take the upper hand.
Oak Glen's first lead came at 21-20 on a Jessica Stivason spike and the Hancock County squad was never behind again.
But the Knights turned the tables in Game 2, never trailing and erasing a 6-6 deadlock with nine straight points to take command. Megan Carpenter held serve for eight points to put the hosts in charge.
Torrye Cline held service for the final four points, with a Allison Wable providing a pair of spikes and a block for the difference.
An entertaining Game 3 went back and forth most of the way with neither team able to get more than a three-point lead at any time. But it was Oak Glen scoring the final four points, breaking a 21-21 deadlock to take a 2-1 advantage.
The Golden Bears wasted little time sending the Knights to the loser's bracket in Game 4, overcoming an early 1-0 deficit by scoring 12 consecutive points, 11 with Sydney Kell at service to take charge.
Summers' girls battled the rest of the way, eventually losing 25-13, the exact margin of Oak Glen's big run.
''We got behind in Game 1 but battled back,'' Riser said. ''I told the girls to just take it one point at a time, keep relaxed and focus and they did. I think service cost us in Game 2, but we bounced back nicely.
''Tyler has been a team that we have battled with for awhile, and I said that if we use teamwork we can beat them, and that is what we got the job done with (Tuesday).''
Summers, meanwhile, hopes his girls can bounce back on Thursday, but knows the big prize is still within reach.
''I keep telling them that the only loss to get upset about is the one that ends your season,'' Summers said. ''And that wasn't it (Tuesday). Every game we have played with Oak Glen the last 12 years has been a battle and this was no different.
''They are a very, very good team and this really seemed like a state tournament-caliber match to me. There were some amazing digs and hits, but we let some leads get away and they stepped up when they needed too.
''It was just an extremely well played match. Our sectional is brutal, and the two teams that get out of here are going to have to play extremely well to move on.''
Oak Glen swept through Magnolia in the opening round while Tyler needed four games to send Weir to the loser's bracket.
The Golden Bears rolled to victory 25-10, 25-15, 25-20 behind Morgan Poling, Lacee Porter, Reagan Headley and Vanessa Hissam who combined for a whopping 63 spikes in the contest.
Meanwhile, the top-seeded Silver Knights needed an extra game to down the pesky Red Riders, 25-13, 25-19, 23-25, 25-18. Even more impressive for the hosts was the foursome of Allison Wable, Torrye Cline, Sami Jones and Abby Atkinson who dominated the net with 88 combined spikes. Keri Suter took care of the big four with 116 overall sets.