E.A. Sports Today

J’ville survives, advances

Golden Eagles sweep familiar foe in 4A volleyball Elite Eight

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

BIRMINGHAM – At this point in the proceedings, it’s all about results. It doesn’t much matter how well you play as long as you get to 25 three times first.

That was Jacksonville’s approach Wednesday as it fought through some opening-round nerves to beat UMS-Wright 3-0 in the Class 4A Elite Eight at the Birmingham Crossplex. The game scores were 25-21, 25-19, 25-23.

The Golden Eagles (39-9) will play St. James (27-14) in the semifinals today at 5:30 p.m.

“I think we’re a better team (than it showed in the match),” senior setter Mallory Patterson said. “We have to show what Jacksonville volleyball is and who we are and I don’t think we showed it in that match, but I’m proud that we got through it.

“It’s just nerves for people right now, including me. Coming back here defending 4A state champions already, you want that title again.”

The Golden Eagles got out to a nice lead in the first game, but then went through some loose play that tightening things up. The same thing happened in the second game and they fell behind early in the third.

“Winning Game 1 was big; it helped calm us just a little bit,” Jacksonville coach David Clark said. “I thought we played kind of average, but part of that was UMS did a g ood job with their serve.

“We didn’t play as well as were capable, but this time of year you just have to get to 25 first. Whether it’s fantastic volleyball or just heart and effort, you just have to find a way to get there — and I thought we did that.

“We’re not going to dwell too long on whether we played great or bad; it doesn’t make any difference. We just want to move forward.”

Sierra Stone led Jacksonville in the match with 15 kills and 13 blocks. Blessing Dunn had 13 kills and nine digs, including two diving ones that led to a key point in Game 2. Darrien Martin had 11 kills and Ashley Clingan had 35 assists.

The Golden Eagles will have to contend with a balanced attack in the semifinals. Clayton Waring led St. James against Brooks with 11 kills, but the Trojans had three others with at least six. Hannah Dailey and Kendall Wybenga each had five blocks. Zuri Foster had 15 digs and Emily Poundstone had 16 assists.

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