BHS Volleyball Team Wins Pool Play Before Advancing to Semifinals at Home Tournament

By Chris Johnson on September 21, 2023 via

With a relatively inexperienced roster and one of the toughest schedules in the state, Bridgeport High School volleyball coach Ali Burton thought her team would probably take some early-season bumps.
However, she also expected the talent on her team to mesh and show improvement as the Indians progressed through the tough competition.
Last weekend, the Indians were at home for the first time (with the exception of a home JV tr-match) in a 12-team tournament and Burton was pleased with the outcome and still came out if it with room to grow.
The Indians went 5-1 in pool play, sweeping Parkersburg and Woodrow Wilson in straight sets and going 1-1 with Washington. They advanced to the gold bracket tournament and swept Martinsburg in the quarterfinals before falling to Oak Glen in three games. Oak Glen would go on to defeat Shady Spring in the tournament finals.
BHS won the first set against Oak Glen, 25-20, which was only one of two sets the Golden Bears lost all day (they lost one set to Williamstown in pool play). The Indians then were in complete control of set two, up 12-4, before Oak Glen battled back and pulled out a 25-23 win. The Golden Bears then took the deciding Game 3, 15-11.
“I hope we learned a lot about ourselves today,” Burton said at the end of the tournament. “Overall, it was a good day. Overall, we played like what we’ve been waiting to see with everyone doing their job with confidence and having that short-term memory and not worrying about what happened on the last play.
“We were up in that second game against Oak Glen and let them come back. We have to learn that you can’t let up against a team that is that good. Hopefully we learn from that, you lose and learn and try to move on that.”
Myleigh Smell and Ella Sorine made the plays that Burton is accustomed to seeing them make and one would expect from the pair of all-state players. But the rest of the BHS lineup stepped up and made plays in the tournament, especially Caroline Deniker who showed flashes of being a go-to hitter for Sorine to set up alongside Smell.
Deniker sent down several clutch kills throughout the day and seemed to gain confidence with each one.
“That’s the key for Caroline, playing with confidence,” Burton said. “She has to realize she’s not going to get a clean hit every single time and that’s OK. That’s where the short-term memory comes in. She plays like she did today, that opens everything up for us and teams can’t just key on Myleigh.”
Prior to the strong showing in the tournament, the Indians swept county foes Lincoln and Liberty in a tri-match at Liberty.
They will play at home again today in a tri-match along with East Fairmont and Elkins before heading back on the road on Saturday for another tournament, this one at Greenbrier East High School.
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Myleigh Smell, right, and Calleigh Morgan making a play at the net, while bottom photo features Caroline Deniker  sending down a kill attempt. Photos by Joe LaRocca.

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