MIDDLEBOURNE - Championship games bring out a team's true colors and show deep down who wants it more. That was the case Saturday when the Tyler Consolidated and Magnolia volleyball teams met in the West Virginia Class A Region 1 title match.
After winning the first set in the finals against the Blue Eagles 25-17, the excitement about winning another championship was written all over the Silver Knights' faces. But Magnolia gave their rivals all they could handle before Tyler Consolidated walked off the court with a four-set triumph.
Tied at 21-21 in the second set, the two teams would exchange points seven times before the Blue Eagles scored on back-to-back serves to even the match, 1-1, with a 26-24 victory. But that set only served as a teaser for the one the two squads would put on next.
Tyler Consolidated’s Torrye Cline goes above the net Saturday night.
Photo by Tony Viola
Down 9-6, Tyler Consolidated fought back to even the set at 16-16 and that's when the fun began.
Both teams traded points until Magnolia found itself with match point at 24-23, but the Silver Knights didn't back down and tied the set before they took the lead themselves, 25-24.
Tyler Consolidated then got a taste of it's own medicine when the Blue Eagles tied up the game and then took the lead back at 26-25.
The same pattern would play out several more times until the Knights took a 30-29 lead and scored the game point to take the epic third set.
"I think maybe (if we were) fresh, it might have been a little bit different," Magnolia coach Pam Chapman said.
"I think our conditioning had a play in that also. We spent a lot of energy in those first two sets. Whenever we play Tyler, it's always a good rivalry, it's always a good game. I think a fresh game would have ended a little different."
Knowing his team only needed one more win to seal the regional title, Richard Summers made a change in the Silver Knight's approach.
"We did make an adjustment towards the end," he said. "I thought we were a little rattled a little bit early, so the last set we put our seniors on our floor. It seemed to settle us down a little bit and that was the difference."
And so it was as Tyler Consolidated won the fourth set, 25-17, to lay claim to the championship.
"The girls have worked hard for a long time and to win in a game like that against a really good team, it feels great," Summers said. "Magnolia played fantastic and they have a great team. It was a great game and could have gone either way."
Even with the loss, Magnolia will still advance to the West Virginia State Tournament held in Charleston, but Chapman says the honor still doesn't help the sting of defeat.
"It's always kind of bitter cause you always want to win no matter what," she said.
"Both of us are going to the state tournament, but our players know when you get to the finals you still want to win. Even though we are going to states, we wanted to come out and be Region 1 champions."
Though the regional championship is in the books, both coaches look forward to a rematch down state.
"Rich and I talked afterwords and we said if we both keep playing like this, then both of us could be in the championship game come Saturday," Chapman said.
Summers agreed saying, "I think that if both of us go down there and play like that, then who knows what could happen. The WVSSAC does random seeding, so actually the runner-up could get an easier path to the championship game. We could end up in the finals, but who knows."
Tyler Consolidated made it to the regional championship game by making quick work of Madonna, 25-15, 25-6, 25-17. Magnolia advance by besting Paden City 25-15, 25-13, 25-19.