PARKERSBURG - A 55-win campaign and a trip to the Class AAA state championship match would usually be quite a season for any volleyball program.
However, that's not the case when it comes to the Big Reds of Parkersburg High School head coach Carl Harnish, whose squad has had to settle for state runner-up honors each of the past two years.
With a quartet of seniors and a solid junior class, the red and white are once again expecting big things and hope the final match of the year ends up with them hoisting the big school state title.
"Consistency is what we need," Harnish said of his hitters as a whole. "They hit it hard, but sometimes they are not as consistent as you need to be.
"Right now we are having some problems. We'll have a nice hard spike and the next time they will hit two out. It's just a problem with consistency."
Most teams will put their focus on stopping Big Red senior Kayla Lowers, who is a returning first team all-state performer and a preseason candidate for state player of the year. As a junior, Lowers had 147 aces, 384 digs, 555 kills and added 49 blocks.
Lowers is expected to be joined as full rotation players along with junior teammates Paige Warner and Imani Ward, both solid hitters, and senior setter Kelly Anderson. Backside hitter Precious Ramsey and defensive specialist Alison Bradford are the Big Reds' other two seniors.
Joining Warner and Ward in the junior class are hitters Megan Morris and Morgan Armstrong.
"I think it's going to be tough competition this year in the Mountain State Athletic Conference. There are a lot of good teams," said Harnish, which means attaining that state title will be anything but easy as well.
"We have a pretty good team, but if you have a bad game in the MSAC or you are off on a night you are going to get beat."
A trio of sophomores - Lyxis Reeder, Nicole Bradford and Kaitlin Farrah - along with freshmen Hannah Hill and Alexandra Dils comprise the rest of the PHS varsity roster.
The Big Reds open their season on Friday and Saturday at the Thoroughbred Smash in Lexington, Ky. PHS was the runner-up in that tournament last year.
"The girls said they are tired of being the runner-up and they want to push through and get to the top this year," said Harnish, who is being helped by Lori Allen-Richards, ChrisAnn Ingraham and Kenny DeMoss.
"I think we played well in both championship games, but just didn't have enough to pull it out. They are confident in their ability and their teammates. We think we have a good shot."