The Woodrow Wilson gymnasium is no stranger to some of the best volleyball talent in the state of West Virginia.
That will again be the case Sunday when the North-South Senior All-Star Volleyball Game comes to Beckley.
Getting the top talent to an all-star event can be tough at times due to other commitments, however, this year the field coming to the City of Champions is unmatched.
Greenbrier East head volleyball coach Matt Sauvage, who is in charge of the event this year, was thrilled with the girls that agreed to play this year.
“We had a few that had prior engagements, but very few. This year’s senior class is absolutely loaded,” Sauvage said. “The talent in the gym on Sunday will be very high. It is such an exciting time for the seniors to showcase their talent.”
West Virginia Sports Writers Association Volleyball Player of the Year for 2021, Skylar Yates will lead the Class AAA North squad, along with all-stater Violet Sickles from Bridgeport.
The AAA South team on the other hand is loaded with household names and former rivals.
Elysia Salon and Olivia Ziolkowski will represent Woodrow Wilson, while Brooklyn Morgan, Nevaeh Wooding and Julia Smith will represent Greenbrier East.
Joining them will be Molly Grimm, Ella Hall and Faith Smith from George Washington.
“From top to bottom it was a very hard decisions by the committee to narrow it down. We are very excited for these young ladies who will bring a very high level of play to the gym,” Sauvage said. “Many of them have already signed to play college volleyball.”
Elli Barry from Huntington will also play for the South team. Barry recently signed to play volleyball at Marshall University.
The players on the court are not the only big names in the building Sunday. Coaching the South team along with Sauvage will be Bre Rhodes and Shirley Brown from Woodrow Wilson, Missy Smith from George Washington and Erin Thorpe from Parkersburg.
Under the guidance of head coach Kelly Williams and assistant coach Sharon Pinardo, Class AA Shady Spring has proven itself to be one of the top teams in the state regardless of class.
The Tigers will be represented by Kelsie Dangerfield, Peydon Smith and Aly Holdren.
“Sharon and I have coached this game the last couple of years and it’s a wonderful experience. You get to meet girls from all over the state and get to hear their plans for the future,” Williams said. “All the girls are excited and ready to play. Many of them are meeting and talking for the first time without being on opposite sides of the floor.”
Kyra Davis and Sarah Bragg from Independence and Anyah Brown from PikeView will join their rivals from Shady Spring on the AA South team.
The Class AA North squad will be led by Heather Halfin from AA state champion Philip Barbour. Halfin will have one of her most dynamic players over the last four years, Alyssa Hill leading her team.
“Just having all the girls from all over the state is amazing. Especially when you’ve watched them play in big games since they were freshman,” Williams said. “There is a competitive feel but it’s really nice to get everyone together to play one more time.”
While one more time is definitely a major theme of the event, for Greenbrier West head coach, Cindy Nutter, it has a special meaning this year.
Nutter will be coaching the Class A South team for the third time.
“I really enjoy getting to know, even if it is briefly, some of the other girls around the state,” Nutter said. “It is a fun environment and it’s not about teaching them it’s more about guiding them.”
Along with teammate Kenzie O’Dell, Brooke Nutter, the coach’s daughter, will represent the Cavaliers at the prestigious event.
“Coaching Brooke one more time is both exciting and depressing,” Cindy admitted. “I love coaching her and I’m sad to see it end.”
Joining the West duo will be Lilly Jackson and Shannon Phipps from James Monroe, Jenna Fisher from Greater Beckley and Maggie Stover from Summers County.
The Class A North squad will led by all-state captain Lakyn Joy who helped lead Williamstown to the state championship title this year.
The action starts at noon Sunday.