Esch and Reeves represent Jamestown in all-star volleyball showcase

kyanchulis@vagazette.com

A statewide high school all-star volleyball game coincided with Free Slurpee Day at 7-Eleven, and players on the East team decided to take advantage.

Recent Jamestown graduate Maria Esch was one of nine players on the East squad and 18 seniors overall selected to the Virginia High School Coaches Association all-star game.

When the participants convened at Hampton High for practice Tuesday morning, all but fellow Eagle Rysleigh Reeves were unfamiliar faces.

"It was kind of awkward at first because we didn't know anybody," Esch said. "Then we went out and got free Slurpees during our break from practice, and that broke the ice."

The bonding may not have provided the edge in the match later that afternoon, but it helped the East team gel in a 3-0 sweep (27-25, 28-26, 25-22) of the West, according to Jamestown coach Tom Stephenson, one of three East coaches.

Esch earned the Most Valuable Player award for the East team, while Turner Ashby's Madelyn Lawrence took home MVP honors for the West.

Despite the names, the teams were not split geographically. Still, the three local participants — Esch and Reeves from Jamestown and Keely Crittenden from Mathews — all represented the East.

Jamestown and Mathews each lost in the state finals this year, Jamestown in Group 4A to Loudoun County and Mathews in Group 1A to Rappahannock County. With Tuesday's victory, Esch, Reeves and Crittenden instead ended their high school careers on a happy note.

"It's the best of Virginia all the way around, so it was really once in a lifetime," Crittenden said. "It was nice, but it was sad at the same time. I'm not playing in college, so this was it."

Crittenden will attend James Madison this fall.

Esch and Reeves both will play volleyball in college, Esch at NCAA Division I UNC-Greensboro, Reeves at Division III Stevenson University outside Baltimore.

"As a coach, it's gratifying because in order to get to the next level, they have to be committed, they have to put in the work," Stephenson said. "I love to see them getting recognized for everything they've accomplished."

Yanchulis can be reached by phone at 757-298-5176.

Copyright © 2017, The Virginia Gazette