By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The James Monroe Mavericks had beaten the PikeView Panthers all three times the teams had met this fall, leading up to Thursday’s sectional tournament. With more at stake, the Panthers saw to it that there wasn’t a fourth.
In a spirited championship match for the Class AA, Region 3, Section 2 crown, PikeView defeated James Monroe three games to one.
PikeView (22-14) senior Holly Mack said, “I had a feeling this was going to be it. It turned out it was.”
“We played solid all night,” said PikeView head coach Steve Compton. “James Monroe is a great team, a quality, quality program.”
The first-year head coach of the Mavericks (21-11-1), Renee Jessee, said about her team, “They wanted it. Both teams wanted it. I guess (PikeView) wanted it a little more.”
The sectional matches took place on the Panthers’ home court, but that wasn’t the original plan. The wintry weather this week wrecked the scenario of a double-elimination affair to be played over three nights at Mount View High School.
Under the gun to get sectional play concluded before Saturday’s Region 3 tournament, a “Plan B” was hammered out on Wednesday evening — a single-elimination, one-day tourney in Gardner.
Both teams advance to the regionals on Saturday at Summers County High School. They will face the top two teams to survive today’s Section 1 finals at Independence High.
The preliminary matches on Thursday were all 3-0 sweeps. PikeView eliminated Bluefield and James Monroe turned back Mount View in the first round. PikeView ended River View’s season to reach the title match.
The first five points of the championship match went James Monroe’s way, with Jenna Hancock nailing four service points. PikeView did not get a lead until Hannah Cook served an ace for a 15-14 advantage.
“That was scary,” said PikeView’s Alexis May, “but we started fighting back. We knew we could do it, we just had to have faith in ourselves.”
James Monroe’s 20-16 lead in game one dissolved away. Haleigh Compton served the final four points, starting with an ace that knotted the score at 22-22, to give PikeView a 25-22 win.
The Mavericks exploited a weak spot in the PikeView defense in game two, paced by several powerful spikes from Carter and Laine Shiflet, and the Mavs’ 25-17 victory evened the match at one game apiece.
The third game was tied four times, but the Panthers got five service points from Lena Hayworth to pull into a lead. Cook served the final six points as PikeView won 25-11.
The final game included eight ties and nine service errors. May had seven service points to build the Panthers’ lead to 20-12, and went on for a 25-16 result to end the evening.
May had 12 kills and one block for PikeView. Haleigh Compton had 15 kills and six blocks and Hayworth had six kills and a pair of aces. Savanna Coalson provided three kills and an ace. Mack had 17 assists, and Cook provided 15 assists and six aces.
Mack said, “It’s just good to know I have such a great team behind me, and we all know what we’re doing.”
“We were all excited, because we knew we would play better at home, instead of having a long bus ride, and we would have fans here to cheer for us.”
Steve Compton said, “After the first set, I told them, you-all have done something you haven’t done all year. ... I told them all year, ‘Live to fight another day.’ They hung in there and played the way they can play.”
For the Mavericks, Carter Shiflet’s quick reflexes and hustle helped set up her team’s spikes. Hancock also had a standout evening.
With regionals just around the corner, May recalled the Panthers’ defeat last fall at that level by Greenbrier West.
“It was a heartbreak ... big-time,” she said. “So we want to fight and to back to states.”
— Contact Tom Bone at email@example.com