Magnolia Falls in Title Match Thriller
After defeating Greater Beckley Christian in three straight sets 25-16, 25-17 and 25-18 Friday morning in quarter-final action, the Blue Eagles advanced to Friday nights semifinal match with defending state champion Williamstown.
Earlier, Williamstown knocked off Moorefield in three sets and sought to advance to the title game on Saturday. Magnolia had different ideas, however, and sent the Yellow Jackets home with a hard fought five set win. Williamstown won the first set 13-25 but the Eagles came right back for a 25-12 win. both teams traded sets again before Magnolia advanced with a 15-11 fifth set win.
Coach Pam Chapman’s Blue Eagles were led by senior Cierra Fowler who had 22 kills and 13 blocks. Kelsi Chapman added 12 kills, nine points and three aces to the cause. Bailey Estep tallied 50 assists and had five blocks, while Gracie Bersiford chipped in with seven points and 18 digs. With the win, Magnolia advanced to the title match with a familiar name to the state event Wirt County, on Saturday.
Saturday’s match got underway at about 1:30 p.m. following the AA and AAA matches won by Phillip Barbour and George Washington. Magnolia won the first set, 25-16, and just like Friday night’s match with Williamstown, this match went the distance. After Wirt won set two, 25-22 , the Blue Eagles took the third, 25-22. It looked like the end for Wirt in set four when the Blue Eagles went ahead 24-20 but the Tigers stormed back to score the next six points to set up an exciting finish.
Set five looked to be all Wirt as they built a huge 13-5 advantage in a 15 point set. Magnolia got point six and then went on a nine point run with Bersiford serving to go up 14-13. Wirt then tied things up at 14 on a hard kill and added the next two to come away state champs 16-14.
The Blue Eagles were led by all-state candidates Kelsi Chapman and Cierra Fowler. Chapman had 12 points, 15 kills, 15 digs while Fowler added seven points, 22 kills, 16, blocks and 10 digs for a monster game. Taylor Ludewig served up 20 points with one ace and added seven kills and 18 digs.
Grace Bersiford had 25 digs and four points while Evan Estep chipped in with 12 points, three aces and five kills. Bailey Estep had three points, one ace and 38 assists.
Magnolia came away with the runner up award and landed three members to the all-tournament team. Making the squad were Chapman, Fowler and Bailey Estep.
Saturday’s match was the Blue Eagles first appearance in the championship since 2004 when they finished as state champs.
Blue Eagles Win One Lose One In Regional Finale
Cierra Fowler contributed 10 points, two aces and belted 16 kills to lead Magnolia past Clay-Battelle, 25-8, 25-22 and 25-19 to advance to the Region I Championship against Tyler Consolidated, on Nov. 7, in Kidwell.
Taylor Ludewig tallied a game-high 12 markers and added seven kills, while Evan Estep posted 11 points and six kills. Kelsi Chapman tallied nine markers and a dozen kills, while Grace Berisford tacked on four points. Bailey Estep ending the Blue Eagle stats with two points and dished out a game-high 41 assists.
The Lady Eagles run at a Regional crown ended by the Lady Knights in straight sets, 7-25, 12-25 and 14-25 in the championship tilt after beating Madonna in straight sets in the semi-finals.
Bailey Estep dished out a team-high 24 assists, while Ludewig lead all teammates with six points. Fowler added three points and nine kills, while Evan Estep contributed two points and seven kills. Chapman finished the Blue Eagle stats with three kills.
With the Eagles finishing as the Region I runner-up, they headed to Charleston to participate in the WVSSAC State Tournament this past Friday and Saturday.