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Eagles, Applemen open quest

November 11, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

Hedgesville and Musselman will begin their quests for the West Virginia Class AAA state volleyball title this evening at Robert C. Byrd High School.

The Eagles (21-2) - the Region II champions who are making the trip to states for the fifth straight year - open against Spring Valley, while the Applemen (15-9) - who made the regional final to qualify for states - play tournament favorite Parkersburg. Both matches start at 8.

Hedgesville, which won this tournament in 2002, is going in at less than full strength, according to coach Lori Zick. Senior Megan Grant has a muscle tear in her right shoulder, but should play. Senior Kayla Laing will miss the tournament for undisclosed reasons.

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"(Grant) is resting, and will be ready for states," Zick said. "Kayla ... will be a huge hole to fill."

Grant led the Eagles this season, averaging 2.86 kills, 1.61 blocks and 4.85 digs per game.

"Megan is our stud. She loves the game, influences the younger girls and has really taken on the role of motivator," Zick said. "Most importantly, she never lets this team quit. When she speaks, they respond at games and more importantly at practice."

Senior Ryan Mills, second on the team in kills (2.64) and digs (3.41) and first in service points (2.83), joins Grant as the Eagles' main 1-2 punch.

"Ryan is mature for her age and has the respect of everyone on the team," Zick said. "Ryan has carried us on her shoulders on more than one occasion this year."

Hedgesville's only losses this season came to Parkersburg and Woodrow Wilson, last year's state champs who did not qualify for states this year.

"We've played and beat very good teams, and still are looking at making a run at this," Zick said.

Musselman is led by Ashley Bennett, Alyse Custer and Whitney Rideout. Bennett earned Apple Valley League All-Tournament honors, Custer made the All-Cumberland Valley Athletic League Tournament team and Rideout was part of the All-Potomac Valley Conference Tournament and All-Martinsburg Invitational teams.

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