By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
In just two days, East Fairmont and Fairmont Senior will square off in what is considered by many to be the oldest football rivalry in the state.
But Tuesday, the bad blood was boiling already on the volleyball court.
Even the most astute bracketologist wouldn’t have predicted that the Bees and Polar Bears would meet heading into the Section One double-elimination tournament. Still, it was only fitting that when they squared off at East Fairmont, everything was on the line. Winner advance to Thursday. Loser go home.
Playing for the fourth time this season, Fairmont Senior defeated East Fairmont, 24-26, 25-15, 26-15, 26-24, 26-24. The Polar Bears advance to play Weir at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at East Fairmont.
“It was some very, very intense volleyball,” Fairmont Senior assistant coach Melissa Jura said.
Kaden Whaley led the Polar Bears with 19 kills, seven blocks and two digs.
Emily Stoller had 16 kills, five blocks and 10 digs. Jasmine Johnson recorded four kills, 19 assists, 15 digs and two aces. Gabi Pearse accumulated four aces and 20 digs. And Breanna Pacoe added two kills, two blocks, five digs and four aces.
This season the two volleyball teams have probably been as evenly matched as any season in the rivalry’s history.
Fairmont Senior defeated East Fairmont in three sets the first time the teams squared off this season, the Polar Bears’ first win over the Bees in East Fairmont coach Deb Spears’ tenure.
However, the Bees responded by winning the Big 10 Conference match in five sets before Fairmont Senior bounced back a couple weeks later to win a three-set match in the county tri-match.
“I told the girls several times that this is the most successful program we’ve had in a decade,” Jura said. “It feels a lot like redemption.”
Second-ranked Fairmont Senior started the day in the losers’ bracket after falling to Weir, 16-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-15. It was a disappointing start to the tournament for the Polar Bears, considering they rolled past Weir in three sets earlier in the season.
“We were hoping to do much better,” Jura said. “We were looking forward to playing in the winners’ bracket all evening.”
As it was, the Polar Bears had to fight from behind. The Polar Bears defeated North Marion 25-14, 25-15, 20-25, 25-15 in the second match of the evening, ending the Huskies’ season and setting the stage for the in-county match.
“Tonight overall was probably the best showing that they made all season. They played together as a team and they put forth effort,” said North Marion coach Kristin DeVaul. “I think that this tournament was a great note for them to end on and a great starting place for them next year.”
Meanwhile, East Fairmont defeated North Marion in its first-round game, 25-13, 25-22, 25-16. The Bees then fell to the top seed in the tournament, Oak Glen, 25-11, 25-6, 25-6 to set up the matchup with Fairmont Senior.
“This is pretty sweet to come away with the win over East,” Jura said. “Hopefully we’ll take this momentum into Thursday.”
Email Mike DeFabo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.