KIDWELL - When there is a championship on the line, teams seem to play a little harder, and the atmosphere gets a little more intense.
Throw in a pair of long-time rivals and it is hard to tell what might happen before the final trophy is awarded.
Saturday morning both Tyler Consolidated and Magnolia breezed to easy victories in the semifinals of the West Virginia Class A Regional One volleyball tournament, setting up a matchup with the regional title on the line.
After dropping a hard-fought first game, the Silver Knights went into beast mode, winning the next three behind big-time performances from senior Megan Carpenter and junior Bridget Matthews to capture a four-game, 21-25, 25-17, 25-13, 25-12 victory against the Blue Eagles at Tyler Consolidated High School.
Both teams had already punched their respective tickets to next week's state tournament in Charleston.
Coach Richard Summer's Tyler squad disposed of Madonna, 25-7, 25-11, 25-12 while Pam Chapman's Magnolia team ousted Paden City, 25-9, 25-17, 25-12 to move on.
In the final, the schools slugged it out for most of the first game with the Silver Knights (34-13) owning a late 20-19 lead. However, the Blue Eagles (26-10) scored six of the final seven points to rally for the victory and the early edge.
Magnolia's advantage was short-lived as Carpenter and Matthews began controlling the net and the Knights simply refused to give up the lead. Carpenter recorded a kill for the opening point of the second game and Matthews was credited with the first three points as Tyler Consolidated jumped to a 3-0 lead.
Magnolia did managed to overcome a five-point deficit and knot the count at 15-15, but still watched as the hosts evened things at a game each.
"I think we lost a little momentum after that first game, and we fought hard, we just couldn't get it back once it was gone,'' Chapman said. ''We will go back to work Monday and work on a few things and try to get them corrected for next week."
Game 3 was more of the same as the Silver Knights held service, with Matthews opening things up again, for the initial seven points of the game. For a second consecutive game Tyler Consolidated never trailed in taking control.
It was Magnolia coming out of the gate quickly in what turned out to be the final game of the match. The Eagles led 4-1 early, and appeared set to make a possible run at a fifth and decisive contest. However, the Knights had a couple of nice runs and with Carpenter and Matthews owning the net, Tyler Consolidated managed to capture the regional crown in four.
"Our front line did a very nice job, especially blocking shots, and just basically took control," Summers said. "I am very proud of the fact that we lost the first game but the girls never got down on themselves and stayed focused. What a great effort.
"We have four seniors that were just real determined that they were going to win this championship (Saturday) and they weren't going to let it get away from them. And our younger girls did an outstanding job rallying around them.
"But I can tell you this, I think these are two teams that are both going to be very capable of going to Charleston and making a little bit of noise. We have a ton of respect for Magnolia's program and this is a nice win for us."
While Magnolia had to settle for second Saturday, there was some consolation in knowing that not all was lost and it will also be in Charleston next week.
"We knew what we had accomplished after beating Paden City," Pam Chapman said. "But the girls still wanted that game bad. I told them afterwards to be proud of how they played (Saturday) and we are still going to the state tournament.
In all, Carpenter and Matthews combined for 36 kills and 30 points while Ariel Fish added 10 kills and nine blocks for the Silver Knights. Senior standout Mallory Chapman had 16 points and 16 kills for Magnolia while Cierra Fowler added 12 kills and Bailey Estep 30 assists.