E.A. Sports Today

Falcons take silver, wanted more

Donoho wins second tier of its volleyball tournament; Sacred Heart ousted in Gold Bracket semifinals

The Donoho volleyball team poses with the trophy after winning the Silver Bracket of its tournament Saturday. In the cover photo, Camille Fink (7) and Madison Gaines strike a pose at the net.

The Donoho volleyball team poses with the trophy after winning the Silver Bracket of its tournament Saturday. In the cover photo, Camille Fink (7) and Madison Gaines strike a pose at the net.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Janice Slay held the blue trophy in front of her as she talked to her Donoho volleyball team after its match. It was nice to have the shiny trinket, but it was evident the hosts would much rather have been on the adjacent court where two out-of-town teams were still playing for the overall crown.

The Falcons won the Silver Bracket of their own Donoho Classic Saturday, taking out Etowah in the final 25-17 and 25-19.

As the Falcons were leaving their court, Ider was putting the finishing touches on a two-game sweep of Meek for the overall championship.

“Any time you win a part of a tournament or a division of a tournament it’s something to be proud of,” Slay said, “but I think all of them know in the back of their minds that they should have been down there on that court, playing in that championship bracket, rather than this one.

“This is good and I’m proud of them for that, but this is not what we wanted in the end.”

The Falcons (14-8), currently No. 2 in Class 1A, were relegated to the second tier after losing to Meek in pool play because of a long-frustrating tendency of not extricating themselves from an early deficit. Meek eliminated soon-not-to-be No. 1 Sacred Heart (17-10) in two games to set up a finals matchup with Ider.

Donoho started slow in both games with Etowah, but this time was able to snap out of it and finish strong. The Falcons were down 9-3 and 12-5 in the first game, but at 15-15 they scored seven straight points to take control. They trailed early in the second game, too, but at 13-13 they zipped off five straight points and were never ahead by fewer than two the rest of the match.

“That’s been our history,” Slay said. “Sometimes it doesn’t come out that well for us.

“When they play, they play really well; it’s when they won’t play (that creates problems). You saw the good side of us against Sacred Heart the other day (in a three-game sweep). If you’d seen us play against Meek this morning you would have seen a completely different side of us.”

The Falcons got contributions from a lot of places. Jordan Ray recorded 18 kills, four aces, 32 assists and 33 digs in their five tournament matches. Hannah Christian had 11 kills, three aces and 10 digs. Kayla Wallace had 12 kills, seven aces and 16 digs. Anna Marie Woodfin had 40 digs. Katie Brown had 29 assists, nine aces and six digs. Madison Gaines and Peyton Suco had 16 kills each.

“We played hard and we should’ve worked together more, but I think we still had fun even though we weren’t in the Gold Bracket,” said Gaines, a freshman. “We were hoping to win the whole tournament since it’s ours, of course, but I think we still had fun. I kind of wish I was over there, too, but I’m proud of how we did today. I think we did pretty good.”

One team that didn’t look like it had any fun was Sacred Heart. The Cardinals lost one match in pool play, but won the tiebreaker to come out as its top seed. They then lost to Meek 25-17, 25-20.

They led early in the first game, then went through a series of unforced errors Meek that led to a 13-2 run that sent it to defeat. They led much of the second game, too, but were outscored 9-1 down the stretch.

Coupled with her team’s play against Donoho, Cardinals coach Robin Coplin reached back into an old tactic in hopes of getting her team’s attention.

“We give it away, we’ll lead a team 12 points and turn around and figure a way to give it to them,” she said. “I told them if they did this way when we got here today there would be no more practice. So, when they decide that they want to do what I tell them to do, then we’ll go back to the gym. They’ve got to want it as much as I do.

“They were playing inconsistent like this even before Donoho. They either get out there and play dynamic or they play like they’ve never played before. I’ve told them if you couldn’t play then I could sit back here and say ‘way to go,’ but knowing the potential they have I can’t tolerate the lack of effort and that’s what it is.

“They’re going to face an area team (Faith Christian) without being in the gym; we’ll see how they handle it. If they care, they’ll be asking me to practice.”

And with that she walked toward the parking lot, leaving the players stunned on the lawn to contemplate which fork in the road to take.

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