E.A. Sports Today

Oxford picks up 2 more

[corner-ad id=2]Jackets take down Pleasant Valley and White Plains, improve to 4-1 against county opponents; PV beats White Plains

Oxford's Breanna Nolan (6) gets above the net to score a point in Thursday's victory over White Plains. (Photo by Mike Lett/Lett's Focus Photography)

Oxford’s Breanna Nolan (6) gets above the net to score a point in Thursday’s victory over White Plains. (Photo by Mike Lett/Lett’s Focus Photography)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – There aren’t many places in the state that have it as good in volleyball as they do in Calhoun County.

This week alone more than half of the county’s 15 teams are either in the top 10 or been nominated for the statewide poll across five classifications. With all those choices, all of a sudden picking the top seed for next month’s County Tournament might not be so easy.

Coaching stability and the proliferation of outside leagues are just two of the reasons insiders give for the county’s strong volleyball reputation.

“I like having a strong county,” Pleasant Valley coach Dana Bryant said. “I like having those stronger teams on my schedule; it makes us better.

“It doesn’t always help our record, but it makes our team stronger. It helps get us ready for the end of the season, when it really counts.”

And when the best of them get together it’s usually a dogfight — as it was Thursday.

Oxford exerted its will on two more county rivals, adding to its case for a No. 1 County Tournament seed, beating Pleasant Valley and White Plains in straight sets. But the victories didn’t come without going into sudden death in the second set to get out of each match.

The Yellow Jackets, ranked 10th this week in Class 6A, opened the night with a 25-9, 28-26 win over No. 8-3A Pleasant Valley and closed it with a 25-14, 27-25 win over unranked but capable White Plains. In between, Pleasant Valley defeated White Plains 25-7, 26-24.

Breanna Nolan had 12 kills and 18 digs in the two matches for Oxford. Karagan Timmons had 19 digs. Taylor Ellison had six of her 10 kills in the White Plains match, including the match-winner. Chloe Stone had 35 total assists.

“I thought they played well,” Oxford coach Wendy McKibbin said. “We’ve got a lot of young kids; we’re trying to find our chemistry. We do a lot of good things well, but we still make some mistakes we shouldn’t that let other teams get back in it … We’re still trying to find a way to come out and play strong from point one to the end in both sets.”

The Jackets (9-4) seized control of the first set against Pleasant Valley with a 12-1 run and cruised to an easy victory. They led 16-6 in the second set, but the Lady Raiders rallied to get within three and then fought off match point seven times and actually were serving for set point before finally falling.

It was Oxford doing the rallying late in its second match. Nolan called it “intense,” but the Yellow Jackets never blinked.

White Plains put together a late 7-2 run to take the lead and were serving set point before the Jackets scored the final three points to win.

“We don’t get flustered, we don’t get nervous,” McKibbin said. “We do a lot of stuff in practice that works on game point … putting it away. We practice to be in that situation.”

Pleasant Valley (8-3) made its case for being a tough out and getting a favorable County seed.

The Lady Raiders rallied from a 16-6 deficit and had the advantage in the tiebreaker in their second set with Oxford and rallied from deficits of 8-2, 21-16 and 23-20 in the second set against White Plains. They are currently 5-2 against county opponents.

Cammy Cochran had 14 kills and eight digs in the White Plains match, 21 kills and 23 digs on the night. Anna Bryant had 23 of her 35 assists against White Plains and Madi Bentley had 24 total digs.

“They’ve actually been working on comeback runs in practice; that’s something we’ve been focusing on,” Bryant said. “Volleyball is such a momentum game and when it shifts they have to learn how to get it back, and you get it back by three-point runs. If you can get a three-point run and do it consistently throughout the game you usually come out on top.”

Oxford No. 10-6A
Alexandria No. 6-5A
Saks No. 3-4A
Jacksonville No. 7-4A
Pleasant Valley No. 8-3A
Donoho No. 2-1A
Sacred Heart No. 10-1A
Ohatchee (3A) was nominated

Pleasant Valley's Cammy Cochran follows through on a slam against White Plains. (Photo by Mike Lett/Lett's Focus Photography)

Pleasant Valley’s Cammy Cochran follows through on a slam against White Plains. (Photo by Mike Lett/Lett’s Focus Photography)

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