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Custer stands in as Musselman wins region title

November 05, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - Musselman senior Alyse Custer was originally thought to be lost for the season after suffering a fracture to her foot in mid-October.

But Musselman's top hitter returned to the lineup Saturday and helped the Applemen win the West Virginia Class AAA Region II title by knocking off Hedgesville for the fourth time this season, 25-12, 25-20, 25-21.

Musselman (18-0) earned its third straight state tournament appearance - states are Friday and Saturday in Charleston - and will be joined by the runner-up Eagles (14-4) in the eight-team bracket.

Custer, hurt at the Martinsburg Invitational on Oct. 14, returned to the Musselman lineup at a new position to avoid reinjuring her foot. She moved to middle hitter, while Stephanie Wood took over Custer's former duties at outside hitter.

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"It's good to have Alyse back out there contributing," said Musselman coach Shawn Martz. "She got cleared to play, but we had to move her to the middle and she sucked it up and played effectively. She played especially well serving."

Custer served six points, including two aces, and occasionally flashed her attacking skills with four kills. Meanwhile, Wood had 13 kills outside.

"Stephanie did another great job on the outside," Martz said. "She's one of a lot of weapons on this team. We have two or three strong hitters that we can always count on."

Musselman's hitters came from all angles. Megan Holmes had a team-high 15 kills, Katie Kees had eight Erica Manor had seven. The attack was well spread thanks to Chelsea Wheaton, who had a whopping 40 assists and added 14 digs. Danielle Felicio had a team-high 16 digs.

"It seems to be the case every time we play Musselman that we can't keep up with them," said Hedgesville coach Lori Zick. "They have a lot of people that can hit well and we've been slow to adjust."

Hedgesville seemed even slower to adjust to Musselman's jump serve. The Applemen had six aces in the opening game and 13 in the match. Wheaton had four, Kristin Kisner had three and Sarah Estes and Manor each had two.

"It's a huge part of our game. To have a group of girls that can all jump serve or float the ball over keeps teams off balance," Martz said.

Estes served the last eight points of the first game as Musselman led from start to finish.

The Applemen also never trailed in the second game, but Hedgesville finally showed some resistance. The Eagles forged the first tie of the match at 6-6, yet still couldn't push through for a lead. The Eagles got as close as 16-15 later in the game before Musselman reeled off four straight points and eventually ended the game on back-to-back kills by Wood and Kees.

Musselman scored the first four points of the third game on a Wheaton ace and three kills by Holmes. The Applemen worked the lead up to 16-8 on another kill by Holmes, who had eight in the last game.

That finally sparked Hedgesville, which ran off seven straight points behind the serve of Virginia Rogus to cut the score to 16-15. The Eagles took their first lead of the match at 19-18, but couldn't make it stick as Wood had three kills down the stretch to propel Musselman.

Rogus guided the Eagles with 12 assists, while Lindsay Hadley led with six kills. Emily Kisner had four kills and Kayla Wagner had three blocks.

Hedgesville and Musselman both earned spots in the region final after posting sweeps in the semifinals earlier Saturday.

Hedgesville beat Bridgeport, 25-14, 25-18, 25-20. Rogus had 31 assists, Hadley had 13 kills and 10 digs and Emily Kisner had nine kills, 13 digs and seven aces.

Wheaton had 30 assists, 17 service points and six aces as Musselman knocked off Lewis County, 25-13, 25-6, 25-14. Holmes had 13 kills, Wood added nine and Felicio had 17 digs.

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