By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
PLEASANT VALLEY —
Inside the East Fairmont gym, which boomed with excitement for the cross-town rivalry game with Fairmont Senior, one voice stood out from the bunch.
“Come on ladies; take it back!” one East Fairmont fan implored from the bleachers.
She echoed the phrase time and again as the Bees fell behind and ultimately lost the first set. But in the next two sets, the East Fairmont team must have finally listened.
After dropping the first set, the Bees battled back and defeated Fairmont Senior in five sets, 15-25, 25-15, 25-18, 23-25, 15-13.
“It’s always a good thing when you can beat a rival,” East Fairmont’s lone senior Tori Postlewait said. “It’s really important to me because it’s my last East-West game.”
Fairmont Senior defeated East Fairmont in three sets earlier this season. It was the first time the Polar Bears had defeated the Bees in East Fairmont coach Deb Spears’ five-year tenure at the school.
However, the match did not count toward the conference standings because Big 10 rules mandate that only one match per season will be recorded in the standings.
“We knew how much more this one mattered,” Fairmont Senior assistant coach Melissa Jura said, noting that the Polar Bears have not won a conference game against the Bees since the ’90s. “For our seniors, they really wanted to take this one. It was a tough loss.”
Jura said the difference was the serving. The Polar Bears have landed more than 90 percent of their serves in bounds this season. But Thursday, they had 12 unforced service errors.
“Those are free points,” she said. “And kudos to them. They are very scrappy. They tend to dig up a lot more than we get our hands on. It seems like they have the whole floor covered sometimes.”
East Fairmont is a young team with just one senior and one junior. The victory over Fairmont Senior shows the development of some of the team’s younger players.
Spears said the biggest difference for East Fairmont this time around was mental. Repeatedly through the contest she pointed to her head to signal to the Bees to stay focused and under control
“I think they are starting to feel a little more confident, and they’re playing with the confidence,” Spears said. “They wanted this win for themselves.”
After falling behind two sets to one, Fairmont Senior responded by winning the fourth, 25-23. The Polar Bears fought from behind in the set and tied it three times, including a thrilling rally that went on for more than 30 seconds that tied the game at 10.
But in the fifth set, East Fairmont narrowly defeated the Polar Bears in a match packed with intensity.
“I’m shaking right now,” Jura said. “The level of adrenaline when you’re playing a rival is just out of this world. And East side is just up a notch with the adrenaline and the crowd, you get more fired up.”
For Fairmont Senior, Ali Cumberland had 14 assists, six digs, one kill and an ace. Breanna Pacoe had seven digs, two kills and an ace. Emily Stoller had three digs, nine kills and nine blocks. Gabi Pearse had 16 digs and an ace. Jasmine Johnson contributed five digs, 14 assists, four kills, and one ace. Kaden Whaley had 12 digs, 22 kills, five blocks and three aces. Micayla Willis added six kills.
For East Fairmont, Tori Postlewait had 22 assists, two kills, two blocks and nine service points. Sydney Postlewait had 14 kills and seven service points. Peyton Ryan had eight kills and two blocks. Lauren Antolock added a block and four service points. Lexi Casuccio had five service points. Kayla Snyder had 16 service points. Peyton Ryan had nine service points and Gabi Yearace added two service points.
The two volleyball teams, along with North Marion, will square off again this season in a tri-team match at East Fairmont on Oct. 23.
Email Mike DeFabo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.