E.A. Sports Today

Golden Eagles show early spunk

BOAZ – David Clark saw a lot of good things in Jacksonville’s season-opening straight-set sweep Thursday night, but one part of the second match was particularly eye-catching.

Clark’s sixth-ranked Golden Eagles took down Fort Payne 25-18, 25-19 and No. 8-5A Boaz 25-16, 25-22, and came from 10 points down in the second game of the second match to make it happen.

Last year’s Class 4A state runner-ups were down 15-5 in that second set with Boaz, but climbed back into it behind the savvy serves of Halee Holtbrooks and closed out the Pirates with Sierra Stone killing the final three points.

Holtbrooks, a back row player last season who appears to have transitioned nicely into the team’s regular setter, finished the night with five aces and 36 assists. Stone had 14 kills and six blocks in the two matches.

“The kids did a good job of finishing matches and coming back in that second one,” Clark said. “That would have been an easy one to drop; we made the effort to get back in it and get even. It’s always nice early in the year to see if you can reach down and battle through it.

“It goes to the mental side of our game. Volleyball is such an ebb-and-flow you have to have the understanding and the attitude this isn’t over and keep battling, keep finding a way and fighting your way through it.

“You want to get a test and see if this is a fair-weather team or somebody who can find a way to be successful on a night where you’re not real sharp and find a way to get it done. So it was nice because of so many new players coming in and sticking with it and showing me they want to win, they want to be competitive and they’re not going to accept a loss. It’s always nice to see that early; it sets the table for down the road.”

The third returning regular in the Golden Eagles’ lineup, Reagan Stallings, had 18 digs and four aces. Among the newcomers, 10th-grader Elizabeth Poe had nine kills and two blocks and junior Aniyah Robinson had 16 kills and two blocks.

“It was a real positive start for us,” Clark said. “The things we have to do to be good (this year) are different. I was pleased with the start we had tonight with so many new faces on the floor.”

It doesn’t get any easier. The Golden Eagles are in Montgomery today and Saturday for the Mayor’s Cup Tournament, then Tuesday go to Oxford to face the preseason No. 9-6A Yellow Jackets and No. 9-5A Alexandria in a tri-match that could be a preview of any number of potential Calhoun County Tournament finals.
— Al Muskewitz



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