Tigers’ Smith granted birthday wish at state

CHARLESTON – Not always, but sometimes it all just works out in the end like it’s supposed to.

That was the case here Saturday afternoon inside the Charleston Civic Center as Wirt County topped Tyler Consolidated in an epic five-set marathon to capture the Class A state volleyball title and give orange and black head coach Janet Frazier the Tigers’ ninth championship plaque.

“My 18th birthday is Sunday and at the beginning of the season, I told them that states were the weekend of my birthday and that’s what I wanted from all of them and they pinky-promised me that, so they gave me what I wanted for my birthday,” said smiling senior Miriam Smith after the match. “That’s pretty intense to go five sets, especially being a real, real close match.

“Everyone gave it their all. You couldn’t have asked for more. This has been one of the best years I’ve played volleyball, personally. It’s been great to be with all of these girls who actually give it their all, all the time, and just go for it because they wanted to win.”

Smith and fellow seniors Mady Campbell, Leah Haines and Brandy Bunch indeed ended their season in style, but it was far from easy. Although the quartet of 12th-graders definitely played an integral part in defeating Little Kanawha Conference rival Tyler Consolidated for the first time in three tries this season, getting to match point was taxing.

“It was nerve-wracking at first, but I had confidence we could do it,” said the libero Haines. “I wasn’t really worried that we would lose. It’s just really exciting because we worked so hard for it.”

Haines, along with fellow defensive specialist Campbell, accounted for more than three-dozen digs as the Silver Knights fired shot after shot all match long.

“I think we just worked really hard in the back row and it all paid off in the end,” Haines added. “Our blockers helped us with a lot of blocks.

“Personally, I was very emotional. I think we just stepped up and we (the seniors) showed leadership and we just got our whole team pumped and ready to go.”

A year ago at this time, the Tigers were sitting home a dejected group after failing to advance out of sectional play. The main reason for that was the January 2012 death of teammate Sarah Hennen, who would’ve been a senior. As a then-junior, Hennen played an integral part in the Tigers’ 2011 Class A title win versus Williamstown as the middle hitter earned a spot on the all-tournament team.

“We had troubles when we lost Sarah,” admitted Bunch. “But we pulled through it as a team. Last year was a hard year, but it’s something people have to go through and God does everything for a reason.”