WEIRTON - Madonna and Toronto lost a game off of their schedules. The Red Knights lost a match, but Clay-Battelle and the Rush family lost something even greater.
The Madonna volleyball team rallied from early deficits to win the final two games of its match against Toronto, 25-17, 21-25, 25-19, 25-17, Wednesday night inside the Bill Barrett Gymnasium.
The Blue Dons (16-2) and the Red Knights (8-11) were scheduled to take part in a tri-match along with the Cee-Bees (9-5). Unfortunately, Clay-Battelle dropped out of the match following the death of student Sydney Rush in a car crash Monday night.
Rush, a 16-year-old junior, was a state champion in cheerleading as well as in track.
Rush was a member of the Clay-Battelle cheerleading team when the Cee Bees won the West Virginia Class A state championship in 2011.
Last spring, Rush qualified for the state track meet in Charleston in four events. She qualified in two individual events as well as a member of two relay teams. Both relay teams won state titles.
McKayla Eddy, Mariah Hall and Fontana Eddy teamed up with Rush to win the 4x100 relay with a time of 51.9. Rush ran the final leg of the race. The foursome also teamed up to win gold in the 4x200 relay. The foursome finished with a time of 1:49.37. Once again, Rush ran the final leg of the race.
Individually, Rush qualified for the state meet in the 100 and in the 200. Rush finished fourth in the 100 with a time of 12.99, and she ended up sixth in the 200 with a time of 27.8.
"That is sad," Madonna coach Jennifer Ewusiak said. "Our hearts and our prayers go out to them during this terrible situation they have to deal with right now."
As a result of her death, Clay-Battelle did not take part in a schedule quad-match at Tyler Consolidated. Hundred and Valley (Wetzel) were also scheduled to participate. Also, Clay-Battelle will not be taking part in a tri-match along with East Richland Christian today at Valley (Wetzel).
Also, all homecoming festivities were canceled for this week. Clay-Battelle's football game with Valley (Wetzel) has been postponed until Monday.
Calling hours for Rush will continue today, and her funeral is scheduled for Friday.
"The Clay-Battelle community has our thoughts and our prayers," Toronto coach Chelsey Fletcher said. "Our hearts go out to them. We are with them in spirit. Our girls were their colors tonight in support."
As far as the match went, Toronto scored first in all four games, but the Red Knights were only able to win one of the four games.
"We played pretty well," Ewusiak said. "The girls get in ruts, and usually they are able to pull themselves out."
Toronto led the games, 3-0, 2-0, 7-0 and 6-0.
"In the third set, we were not present mentally," Fletcher said. "You hit the nail on the head. We came out hard. We served well. We had the momentum with our serves, but later in the games we didn't maintain our serves. We weren't able to capitalize on our serves, and you have to be able to do that to win in volleyball."
The Blue Dons entered play this week as the top team in the OVAC Class A standings. The Red Knights are fifth in the Class 2A standings while the Cee Bees are fourth. Wellsville is the top team in the class.
"It has taken Madonna seven or eight years to build their program," Fletcher said. "Madonna has a good program, but we are in Year 3 of our venture. Our girls competed at a fantastic level against them. I am proud of the volleyball we played today, but we are going to have to communicate better tomorrow when we play against Catholic Central."
Individually for the Red Knights, Amber Fuller recorded 24 points, three digs and 14 assists; Katie Spadafora delivered 10 points, 11 kills, one dig and four blocks; and Miranda Robinson added eight points, five digs, six blocks and seven assists.
Josey Jones scored 10 points to go along with three kills, five digs and one block; Chelsea Anderson netted seven points and seven digs; and Emily Anderson ended up with 19 points and seven digs. Mykia West tallied seven kills and two digs, and Delaney Meredith collected one kill.
"Toronto is a good team," Ewusiak said. "They have played really well against us. They are one of the better teams we play. Both teams played really well."
The Red Knights scored the first three points of Game 1 before the Blue Dons battled back to take their first lead of the game at 6-5.
Madonna never gave up the lead.
The hosts ended up leading the game by as many as 10 points (18-8) before winning it by eight points to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
Toronto took a 2-0 lead in Game 2. The two teams began to trade points early in the game which eventually led to the game being tied at 13.
Madonna broke the tie with three straight points, but Toronto countered with nine straight points to build a 22-16 advantage. The Blue Dons fought back, but they could only get as close as three points (24-21) before the visitors were finally able to put the game away to even up the match at 1-all.
In Game 3, Toronto jumped out to a 7-0 lead, and the girls from Jefferson County scored two of the next three points to go up, 9-1.
The win enabled the Blue Dons to sweep the season series.
"We knew what they were going to do," Fletcher said. "We played strategic volleyball. We knew what the tendencies of their librero were. We knew their middle hitter liked to hit to the back corner, and our librero dug it out better. We made them switch up. We played strategic volleyball, but the match did not turn out in our favor. I told the girls that we didn't lose the match, but we made Madonna earn the win."