WINFIELD, W.Va. — It will go in the record books as a loss, but not all was lost for the Lady Knights.
The Point Pleasant volleyball team dropped a 3-games-to-1 decision to host Winfield, on Wednesday night in the Class AA Region IV, Section 1 championship match, but — with two teams from each section advancing — the Lady Knights are headed to the regionals.
After a pair of lead changes in the opening game, the teams were tied at nine, the seventh and final time they were tied. From that point, Winfield (35-10-2) claimed the next four points and never trailed again. PPHS (17-11) battled to within one point at 21-20, but the Lady Generals claimed four straight points to win the opening game 25-20.
WHS took the initial lead in the second game, but Point Pleasant took control at 5-3. Winfield fought back to tie the game at seven. PPHS claimed the next point to reestablish its lead, but the Lady Generals answered with a 6-0 run and never trailed again. The Lady Knights fought to within one point at 16-15, but fell by a 25-19 count in the second game.
“(Winfield) just capitalized on a lot of mistakes that we had,” PPHS head coach Marla Cottrill said. “We weren’t covering as well as we should have and our energy level wasn’t up like it was last night. They knew that they were going to regionals no matter what, so it’s tough to keep that energy level up, but they fought back hard.”
In the third game, Winfield jumped out to a 6-1 lead and expanded it to as much as 12, at 23-11. However, Point Pleasant scored 14 straight points — despite a pair of WHS timeouts — and the Lady Knights claimed the 25-23 victory.
“Winfield is an excellent team, we’d never beat Winfield in any set, so it’s a win for us just beating them in one set,” said Coach Cottrill. “I told the girls that ‘this is where the rubber meets the road.’ They had to win that third set, they pulled together and they did it.”
Winfield — which had swept eight consecutive opponents — had won 22 straight games before dropping the third to PPHS.
Point Pleasant carried the momentum into the start of the fourth game, leading by as much as three at 4-1 and 9-6. The Lady Knights stretched their lead to four at 11-7, but WHS answered with four straight points to tie the game. PPHS reestablished a lead at 12-11, but Winfield scored the next five points and led 16-12.
Point Pleasant again cut the deficit to one point, at 19-18, but Winfield scored six of the next nine points and won the game by a 25-21 margin, capping off the 3-1 victory.
“Point Pleasant has never made it this far,” Coach Cottrill said. “We’re in our ninth year as a program and we had never made it past the first round of sectionals. Getting here is a win for us. This is the best team that Point Pleasant has ever had.”
The Lady Knights will have the benefit of familiar scenery for the for its Region IV semifinal, as PPHS will face Section 2 champion Chapmanville, on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Winfield High School. WHS will face Section 2 runner-up Man.
On Wednesday, the Lady Knights’ service attack was led by freshman Olivia Dotson, who posted 18 points, including 13 straight to end the third game. Luiza Da Costa and Lanea Cochran both marked five points, including two aces by Da Costa.
Gracie Cottrill, Michaela Cottrill and Peyton Jordan each had four points in the setback, while Brenna Dotson finished with three points and one ace.
At the net, Da Costa led the Lady Knights with 11 kills and one block. Cochran was next with seven kills, followed by Brenna Dotson with five kills and two blocks. Michaela Cottrill contributed four kills for the Red, Black and White, while Gracie Cottrill and Olivia Dotson both chipped in with two kills.
Olivia Dotson also had a team-best 14 assists for PPHS, while Gracie Cottrill added nine. Jordan led the Lady Knight defense with 27 digs, followed by Michaela Cottrill with 16.
Winfield was led by Kylie Williams with 13 service points, followed by Esten Clay with 12 and Autumn Elswick with 11. Natalie Gunnell posted eight points for the victors, Taylor Ritz added seven, while Kendall Hill finished with four.
Winfield swept Point Pleasant in both regular season meetings.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.