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Lady Colts gunning for fifth state title

Submitted photo The Philip Barbour High School volleyball team will begin state tournament action Friday in Charleston against Weir. The Lady Colts are making their 19th straight appearance in the state tourney.

PHILIPPI — Second-seed Philip Barbour is slated to take on No. 7 Weir in the opening round of the Class AA state tournament Friday morning at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, the entire double-A tournament will be played on Friday. The Class A field will wrap up today, and the triple-A division will crown a champion on Saturday.

The Lady Colts have a current season record of 33-8 under the direction of veteran mentor Heather Halfin, and will be making an unprecedented 19th consecutive appearance on the state stage in 2020.

“This team has really surprised me this year,” Halfin said. “With two very young setters, it often takes some time to make that setter to hitter connection.

“Despite a 19-game hiatus during the three weeks we were shut down, we seem to be connecting very well. I honestly think if we would not have had that time off, we would be better.”

The PBHS volleyball program has a total of four state banners, including the first athletic state title in school history being won in 2005. The other three come from a three-peat span between 2015-2017.

Propelling the Lady Colts back on the road to Charleston were strong performances last week when they picked up their latest sectional and regional victories at the Colts’ Corral.

Philip Barbour defeated Robert C. Byrd in the Class AA, Region II, Section 1 title match, besting the Flying Eagles 3-1 in order to advance to the regional semifinals.

The Lady Colts dispatched Lewis County in straight sets to meet up with RCB again in the region final, where PB dismantled the visitors with set scores of 25-18, 25-13 and 25-17.

Lady Colt junior Alyssa Hill helped lead that charge with 17 kills and five blocks, while sophomore Emily Denison inked 10 kills and 10 digs.

Upstart freshman Katie Kennedy netted 23 assists, while sophomore Madison Weese recorded 13 in the assists column. Averi Carpenter, also a 10th grader, ran the floor to collect 16 digs in the title tilt.

“As long as the (younger players) can take care of the nerves, we have the power to make some noise down there,” Halfin said. “We need to play smart, play together, play unselfishly and just go all out.”

Other opening-round matches in double-A include No. 4 RCB vs. No. 5 Herbert Hoover and No. 3 Oak Glen against No. 6 Point Pleasant.

With COVID-19 mapping affecting travel, only seven teams are among the Class-AA field instead of the traditional eight squads.

Thus top-seed Shady Spring will await the winner of RCB and Herbert Hoover.

The winner of the PB vs. Weir match will take on the victor from the contest between Oak Glen and Point Pleasant in the semifinal round.

The title game is set for 7 p.m.

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