Bridgeport’s Strait heads 2A All-State volleyball

By Greg Talkington - The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Her hard hitting had many opponents ducking for cover during an amazing senior season.

East Fairmont coach Dina Hudson called her a machine.

You can just call her captain of the Class AA All-State Volleyball team.

Bridgeport’s Abby Strait led the Indians to the state championship match, where they fell to Big 10 Conference rival and defending state champion Philip Barbour — a team that Bridgeport defeated twice during the regular season.

She accumulated an astonishing 819 kills during a 41-7-5 season, shattering Bridgeport’s school record in the process.

“I could not be more proud of Abby, the way she carried herself this season,” said Bridgeport coach Ali Curry. “She was always a great hitter, but she really stepped it up to be a complete player.

“The improvement she made as an all-around player allowed us to keep her on the floor at all times and that made a huge difference for us.”

That showed up in her all-around stat sheet. Strait, who will play her collegiate volleyball at 2015-16 Division II national champion Wheeling Jesuit, had 125 blocks, 163 digs, 53 aces and 32 assists.

“When our setter got hurt early in the season, Abby volunteered to set and she did for us a couple of matches,” Curry said. “How many big-time hitters would do that? Her team-first attitude and humility made her a joy to coach.”

Bridgeport’s setter, sophomore Payton Hefner, also made the first unit.

Hefner, who was a setter for Morgantown as a freshman in a 6-2 offense, accumulated 1,167 assists despite missing nine matches.

“We had some girls with good hands, but Payton’s overall knowledge for the game made a big difference for us,” Curry said. “We’re glad her family moved back to Bridgeport.”

Philip Barbour also had two girls on the first team, as sophomore hitter McKenzie Carpenter and senior Carmen Cline were accorded first-team status.

Carpenter, whose skill at the net rivals that of Strait, led the Colts in two categories. The 6-foot Carpenter put down 588 kills and came up with 207 blocks during the Colts 42-win season. Cline had 409 kills and 162 blocks.

“For McKenzie to step up the way she did as a sophomore made a huge difference for us,” PBHS coach Heather Halfin said. “Her volleyball potential is unlimited.

“And Carmen was the wildcard for us and a great all-around player. When she played at her best, we were extremely hard to beat.”

Perennial power Oak Glen was represented by junior Alexis Swann, a repeater from last season’s first team. Swann had 436 kills, 161 digs and 192 blocks for the Golden Bears.

Winfield was represented by senior outside hitter Carly Hinkle. She came up with 219 kills and 30 blocks and compiled a .340 hitting efficiency rating.

Rounding out the first team are senior Lexi Woodyard of Clay County, Herbert Hoover’s Kelsey Naylor, Roane County senior Cailyn Reynolds and James Monroe’s Cassie Weikle.

Naylor led the Huskies to the state quarterfinals, coming up with 366 kills, 285 digs and 53 aces. Woodyard had 422 kills, 161 digs and 192 blocks for Clay, while Reynolds put down 299 kills, while coming up with 268 digs, 74 aces and 47 blocks. Weikle, who led James Monroe to the state semifinals, had 301 kills, 230 digs, 55 aces and 42 blocks.

The second team was led by PikeView senior Kaylyn Bridges, who led the Panthers to the semifinals — which included an upset of Winfield in the quarterfinals.

Philip Barbour junior setter Maddi Carpenter, a key component of the Colts’ drive to the state title, was also accorded second team status, thanks to her 1,323 assists.

Robert C. Byrd had a pair of sophomores make the squad in hitters Abby Wetzel and Haley Swiger. They keyed the Eagles to a 30-15-2 record.

State quarterfinalist Frankfort also had a pair of players on the second team, as junior hitter Claire Howell and senior setter Hanna Slider were selected.

Abby Stoller, who broke Fairmont Senior’s single-season kill mark, is also on the unit. The 6-foot senior had 419 kills for the Polar Bears.

Lanky sophomore hitter/middle blocker Anna Hamilton of Nicholas County, Shady Spring senior Taylor Walker and Independence sophomore Alexis Bolen round out the second unit.

* Chapmanville Regional High School’s Abby Marcum and Man High School’s Shauntae Miller were named Special Honorable Mention All-State.

Chapmanville reached the state tournament this season but fell in an opening round contest to James Monroe.


2016 W.Va. Sports Writers

Association All-State Volleyball



Abby Strait, Bridgeport, SR (CAPTAIN)

McKenzie Carpenter, Philip Barbour, SO

Alexis Swan, Oak Glen, JR

Lexi Woodyard, Clay County, SR

Cassie Weikle, James Monroe, SR

Kelsey Naylor, Herbert Hoover, SR

Cailyn Reynolds, Roane County, SR

Carmen Cline, Philip Barbour, SR

Carly Hinkle, Winfield, SR

Payton Hefner, Bridgeport, SO



Kaylyn Bridges, PikeView, SR (CAPTAIN)

Claire Howell, Frankfort, JR

Maddi Carpenter, Philip Barbour, JR

Abby Wetzel, Robert C. Byrd, SO

Anna Hamilton, Nicholas County, SO

Hanna Slider, Frankfort, SR

Haley Swiger, Robert C. Byrd, SO

Abby Stoller, Fairmont Senior, SR

Taylor Walker, Shady Spring, SR

Alexis Bolen, Independence, SO


Special Honorable Mention

Sarah Boggs, Clay County; Autumn Elswick, Winfield; Tayler Huffman, Nicholas County; Marissa Earle, Petersburg; Mykal Daniels, Independence; Kristen Downey, Herbert Hoover; Kristen Crowder, Bridgeport; Shauntae Miller, Man; Sarah Ball, Sissonville; Abby Marcum, Chapmanville; Haley Spencer, James Monroe; Kayla Harris, Philip Barbour


Honorable Mention

Hannah Rogers, Oak Glen; Chasity Drennen, Roane County; Kayla Gunnoe, Nitro; Brooklyn Cook, PikeView; Taylor Lough, Robert C. Byrd; Rivers Wade, Wyoming East; Lauryn Antolock, East Fairmont; Gracie Cottrill, Point Pleasant; Madison Wilcox, Wayne; Raenel Crenshaw, Bluefield; Sami Wilson, Bridgeport; Morgan Thomas, Westside; Katherine Combs, Liberty (Raleigh)

By Greg Talkington

The Exponent Telegram

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