LEWISBURG -- Fans who have witnessed the Greenbrier East volleyball team for the first time over the last four years are usually struck with the same question.
Who is No. 16?
Thanks to a high velocity jump-serve the likes of which are rarely seen in the high school ranks, Chylyn Pate — No. 16 — has left fans in awe and opposing defenders in disarray over her career.
However, her serving prowess is just part of the package that Pate brought to the floor each night for the Spartans.
"The first thing you are going to see is her serve, obviously, and well deserved. She has probably the best serve, maybe ever, in the state of West Virginia, in my opinion," Greenbrier East head volleyball coach Matt Sauvage said. "But I tell people, don't just watch her serve, watch her game. Watch her passing skills and her setting, which is unmatched. There is not a ball that she cannot set and it is going to be almost perfect every time. The rest of her game is what sets her apart."
Although the 2020 season was shortened due to Covid-19 restrictions, Pate still recorded 262 aces and 748 assists over 91 sets to lead her team to a 34-4 record.
Thanks to her stellar play this year, Pate has been named the West Virginia High School Volleyball Player of the Year as chosen by the W.Va. Sports Writers Association.
"Chylyn has been one of the top players in the state for the last couple years," Sauvage said. "For her to earn such an honor is well deserved and I was extremely excited for her. To see a player that has worked so hard get excited like that, it was worth it all."
As is the case with many great athletes, volleyball started for Pate at an early age.
"I started playing volleyball in third grade. I had played soccer and basketball, but I had never touched a volleyball before," Pate recalled. "They hand out the papers for volleyball on the second day of school. I came home and told my mom that I wanted to play volleyball. She said that was great and asked when the tryouts were scheduled. I told her tomorrow."
"We went to the store and we got a beach ball, blew it up and passed it in the backyard. We hit it all night long," Pate went on to say. "My mom was so nervous for tryouts, but I made the team and I fell in love with it."
The booming serve that she is most recognized for came along in eighth grade when a suggestion from her club volleyball coach set her in the right direction.
That person was Patty Bryant, who had previously been a highly successful coach at Independence High School.
"My serve would go out a lot with a flat foot serve. (Patty) told me I needed to try this (jump) serve. At first it was not good," Pate said, laughing. "It just took tons and tons of reps. There were so many little things that I had to perfect before I started doing it consistently."
Over her four-year varsity career, Pate has recorded 824 aces which, along with her 2020 season total of 262, ranks her second nationally in both categories, according to the National Federation of High School Associations.
"When you watch her serve, you see there is something special there," Sauvage said. "But she also has the drive and the work ethic. That is what sets her apart. She will do whatever it takes. Her competitiveness is almost unmatched."
That drive and work ethic were put to test her freshman year when Sauvage asked Pate to play a totally different position.
"I had never played as a defensive specialist until my freshman year. It was hard and we both really didn't know if it was the right decision," Pate admitted. "Halfway into that season, a light bulb, as Matt calls it, came on and I could read the floor so much better. It helped my volleyball IQ so much."
Over the final three years of her high school career, Pate recorded 2,766 assists, the most in Greenbrier East history.
The 2020 Volleyball Player of the Year race was one of the closest in Mountain State history, with Pate edging out Hedgesville junior Skylar Yates and Bridgeport senior Shea Hefner who finished second and third, respectively.
Yates recorded 395 kills this season and had a .389 hitting percentage.
"She has been the backbone of our team all year," Hedgesville head coach Joy Vandine said after her team's quarterfinal state tournament win. "She steps up when she needs to and lets the other kids shine when they can. She has really been our leader."
Hefner, who has been a stalwart for Bridgeport all four years, recorded 389 kills and 330 digs to go along with 65 aces.
"Shea has been a six-rotation player for us since her freshman year," Bridgeport head coach Ali Burton said. "Shea plays a huge role in our front row and is the glue that holds our serve-receive and defense together in the back row. She is a leader on and off the court."
By JAY W. BENNETT
The Parkersburg News & Sentinel
PARKERSBURG -- The talent level in Class AAA was anything but lacking.
Greenbrier East's Chylyn Pate, one of six players to earn repeat first team all-state status, was honored as captain by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
The senior setter had 262 aces with 86 kills, 690 assists and 226 digs while serving at 83.7% with an ace % of 49.8.
Head coach Matt Sauvage's Spartans finished 34-4 as Pate's 262 aces this year and 824 for her career rank second all-time nationally.
"Her serve is what everybody looks at and rightfully so. She's led the state in aces all four years," said Sauvage, whose squad had a near three-week coronavirus layoff prior to the postseason and then lost for the first time in four attempts versus Woodrow Wilson in the sectional final before being eliminated in the regional by state runner-up George Washington.
"Before that we were playing lights out, probably the best I've ever seen a team of mine play," Sauvage added. "I hated it for the girls. They had a chance to make a run this year.
"As good as Chylyn's serve is, she's a better volleyball player when it comes to setting. Her passing, the knowledge of the game and reading hitters, that side is what impresses me. There's not a ball she can't set. She's tough. It's been an absolute blast to coach her the last four years. That's for sure."
George Washington senior Camryn Hughes was the only member of the first team who made their third appearance. Head coach Missy Smith's outside hitter finished with 183 kills, a .293 hitting efficiency and a 39.1 kill %. Along with 43 aces, she had 133 digs and 272 serve-receptions.
GW's Karli Edwards was one of the repeat honorees. The senior libero had just 15 errors on 359 serve-receptions and tallied 58 aces as an 85.6% server. She also had 47 assists and led the Patriots with 234 digs.
State champion Musselman had repeat selections with middle hitter Sadie Wright and outside hitter Hannah Howard. The Applemen of head coach Shawn Martz, who finished 25-1 and captured the school's seventh crown, watched the junior Wright hit at .344 with 185 downed spikes and a 43.3 kill %. Along with 28 aces and being an 86.3% server, she had 42 total blocks and 20 digs. A 91.6% server, Howard registered 38 aces, 264 kills, hit .264 and came up with 288 digs while posting a 38% kill effort as well as a passer rating of 2.03.
Also repeating on the first unit were Hedgesville's Skylar Yates and Spring Mills' Leia Harper, who holds Cardinal school records of kills in a match (28) and career kills (1,067). Harper, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter who signed with Georgia Tech, had 298 kills, hit .289 with a 43.6 kill % and also served up 32 aces (87.9%) with nine blocks. Yates, just a junior, hit at .389 with 395 downed spikes, 27 blocks, 34 aces (89.5%) and 252 digs.
Three other seniors complete the first team -- Martinsburg setter/hitter Ashleigh Wallin, Parkersburg's Anna Umpleby and Bridgeport's Shea Hefner, a first team Class AA honoree in 2019 who has inked with West Virginia University.
Wallin, the lone Mountain State player to earn all-region All-American honors by Under Armour, has a full ride to Robert Morris and prior to the postseason she had 41 aces, 190 assists, 106 kills with a .243 efficiency as well as 69 digs.
Like Hefner, Umpleby also led the Big Reds to the state tournament, but PHS was unable to compete. Umpleby, who will play at Alderson Broaddus, hit .249 and had 317 kills, 17 blocks, 42 aces and 177 digs.
Entering the state tournament, Hefner already was the Indians' all-time leader in digs and downed spikes. She had 389 kills, 330 digs, 65 aces, 37 assists and five blocks.
Morgantown senior Alayna Corwin, who signed to play as a defensive specialist at Marshall University, was named captain of the second team. The Mohigan hit .259 with 253 kills, 32 aces (90.5%) and 222 digs.
Six other seniors -- Greenbrier East's Madison Boswell, Wheeling Park's Rachel Simon, Cabell Midland's Clara Lewis, George Washington's Nyla Birch, Hampshire's Renee Killough and Buckhannon-Upshur's McKenzie Reynolds -- filled spots on the second unit.
Also earning nods on the second team were Woodrow Wilson junior Elysia Salon, Bridgeport 11th-grader Violet Sickles and Morgantown freshman Issy Grushecky.
2020 West Virginia All-State Volleyball
CLASS AAA, FIRST TEAM
Chylyn Pate, Greenbrier East SR (CAPTAIN)
Skylar Yates, Hedgesville JR
Shea Hefner, Bridgeport SR
Hannah Howard, Musselman SO
Karli Edwards, George Washington SR
Leia Harper, Spring Mills, SR
Camryn Hughes, George Washington SR
Anna Umpleby, Parkersburg SR
Sadie Wright, Musselman JR
Ashleigh Wallin, Martinsburg SR
Alayna Corwin, Morgantown SR (CAPTAIN)
Madison Boswell, Greenbrier East SR
Rachel Simon, Wheeling Park SR
Elysia Salon, Woodrow Wilson JR
Clara Lewis, Cabell Midland SR
Nyla Birch, George Washington SR
Renee Killough, Hampshire SR
Violet Sickles, Bridgeport, JR
Issy Grushecky, Morgantown FR
McKenzie Reynolds, Buckhannon-Upshur SR
Special Honorable Mention
Euodia Sauvage, Greenbrier East; Kacee Fansler, Woodrow Wilson; Sierra Lanham, University; Anya Ritz, Wheeling Park; LaZharia Jackson, South Charleston; Ally Franko, Wheeling Park; Shelbi Hickman, Cabell Midland; Lainee Selan, Hampshire; Paige Richmond, Hedgesville; Kierra Anderson, Martinsburg; Madigan Faircloth, Musselman; Presley Ridgely, Brooke; Sam Ellison, Princeton; Julia Griffith, Bridgeport; Ella Vorrhees, Morgantown; Skyler Young, Hedgesville; Emma Pauley, Riverside; Kennedy Stanley, Spring Valley
Makenna Gibson, Parkersburg South; Nevaeh Wooding, Greenbrier East; Khylan Plants, Parkersburg; Jacey Lucas, Bridgeport; Maddie Fields, Ripley; Talayah Boxley, Capital; Tess Brown, Huntington; Maya Harris, George Washington; Grace Washburn, Morgantown; Alexa Martin, Bridgeport; Maddie Stull, Princeton; Kantley McKown, Hurricane; Nylah Gonzalez, Spring Mills; Emily Griffith, John Marshall; Natalie Happy, Washington; Jordan Grimes, Spring Mills; Faith Ketterman, Musselman