E.A. Sports Today

Volleyball winners sweep

Oxford, No. 1 Sacred Heart, No. 2 Donoho maintain winning ways

Oxford libero Alex Cheatwood goes after one of her 15 digs in the Yellow Jackets' sweep of Southside and Alexandria. In the cover photo, Oxford battles Alexandria.

Oxford libero Alex Cheatwood goes after one of her 15 digs in the Yellow Jackets’ sweep of Southside and Alexandria. In the cover photo, Oxford battles Alexandria.

By East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – Oxford put together a run of points in the second game of its match with Alexandria to equal to its current winning streak and took down its county rival in straight sets to complete another sweep Thursday night.

The Yellow Jackets (16-3), ranked ninth in Class 6A in the latest statewide prep volleyball poll, beat the Valley Cubs 25-11, 25-13 after taking down Southside 25-17, 25-20. They have won 12 matches in a row.

Alexandria, ranked seventh in 5A, swept Southside 25-14, 25-16.

Oxford graduated six seniors off last year’s team, but Jackets coach Wendy McKibbin suggested this year’s team may have more depth.

Breanna Nolan had 17 kills, an ace, 10 digs and four blocks in the two matches. Makenzie Trantham had 10 kills, four aces, five assists, two blocks and two digs. Morgan Whaley had 29 assists, six kills and four aces. Libero Alex Cheatwood had 15 digs.

The Yellow Jackets used an 11-2 run to pull away from a close first game with Alexandria with an 11-2 run. They scored 12 consecutive points midway through the second game to rally from an 8-7 deficit.

“We didn’t play to our potential tonight; we were kind of a little sluggish,” McKibbin said. “There are a few things we have to focus on tomorrow in practice.

“The thing about volleyball is momentum can change just like that. You can be up five, six points and all of a sudden you’re down five. If you’re up, you have to stay on them, you have to press and you have to take care of the ball on our side, not worry about what happens on the other side. We have to do a little better job of that.”

No. 1 Sacred Heart 2, Ranburne 1
No. 1 Sacred Heart, No. 5 Spring Garden 0

The homestanding Cardinals (13-7) didn’t play like the No. 1 team in the state early in either match, but they rallied like champions in both to sweep.

They lost the first game to Ranburne 25-13, then bounced back to win the next two 25-10 and 15-6. They didn’t take their first lead of the night until 6-5 in the second game and didn’t take the lead for good until 7-6.

In their second match they trailed Spring Garden 12-5 before rallying to win 25-22. They completed the sweep 25-12.

“We’re having issues with our mental toughness,” Cardinals coach Robin Coplin said. “We’re the smallest 1A school in the state. We’ve never been able to step up. We make the Final Four, Elite 8, and our biggest error is once we got down we collapse, but this bunch has figured out a way to come back.”

Kristen Rothwell, Haley Shaw and Zainab Sanusi each had five kills in the Ranburne match. Setter Anna Kerper had 13 assists and Olivia Simmons had five blocks, most of them coming at key moments of the comeback.

In the win over Spring Garden, Rothwell had 11 kills, Jumi Sanusi had six and Kerper had 15 assists.

The Cardinals scored 12 of the last 13 points in the second game against Ranburne and the first and last five points in the clincher.

“After the first game I got a little nervous,” Rothwell said, “but in the second game when I noticed we were playing at a faster tempo I felt like we would come back.

No. 2 Dohono 3, Faith Christian 0

The visiting No. 2 Falcons did what was necessary and pushed their record over .500 (8-7) against a schedule designed to make them match-hardened for the long road. The game scores were 25-14, 25-11, 25-20.

“We’re still working on some kinks, trying to get some things out,” Donoho coach Janice Slay said. “We’re a fairly young group. We have three seniors, but as far as real match-playing experience we’re very young, especially in our cohesiveness.

Sacred Heart and Donoho meet in a battle of projected 1-2 in Class 1A in the Cardinals’ gym Thursday.

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