E.A. Sports Today

Oxford top seed

Yellow Jackets draw top seed in county volleyball tournament; Saks, Jacksonville 2-3

Saks coach Randy Law (L) and Jacksonville's David Clark discuss the affairs of the season while awaiting the results of the Calhoun County Volleyball Tournament seeding meeting Wednesday. Their teams were seeded second and third, respectively, behind No. 1 Oxford.

Saks coach Randy Law (L) and Jacksonville’s David Clark discuss the affairs of the season while awaiting the results of the Calhoun County Volleyball Tournament seeding meeting Wednesday. Their teams were seeded second and third, respectively, behind No. 1 Oxford.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — One loss against its county rivals and being the biggest school in the county pushed Oxford to the No. 1 seed in the Calhoun County Volleyball Tournament.

The 15 coaches in the county voted Wednesday and in what may be the closest race — and longest meeting — in years, the 6A Yellow Jackets (18-8, 7-1 county) nosed out Saks (24-3, 11-2) as the top seed.

Defending champion Jacksonville (17-6, 5-3), Alexandria (24-13, 3-3) and Donoho (21-5, 13-3) rounded out the top five.

The tournament is Oct. 3 at Jacksonville High School, with the championship scheduled for Oct. 5 at Jacksonville State.

“I thought we had a shot at it,” Oxford coach Wendy McKibbin said. “There are a lot of good teams in this county.”

Tournament officials would not disclose the final voting results, but meeting moderator Rusty Thrasher confirmed the top six seeds were “all pretty close” and the margin between first and second was “very close,” fewer than 10 points.

What made it so tight was many of the top teams have split matches this season, as Jacksonville has with Oxford, Saks and Alexandria, Saks has with Donoho, and Donoho has with Oxford and Pleasant Valley. Saks has yet to play Oxford or Alexandria.

“There were a lot of records that are close, overall and county,” McKibbin said. “It’s hard to vote top to bottom.”

As tight as it, there were no ties.

Jacksonville coach David Clark said there were no surprises for him in the results.

“People are pretty knowledgeable about the schedule people play and for me and I think several other people that carries a lot of weight,” he said. “I think they (Oxford) should be the (No.) 1 this year. I think most years they should probably be the 1. They’re by far the largest school and play 6A competition on a regular basis.”

Saks coach Randy Law figured between their one in-county loss and mash-up among county teams the Yellow Jackets would get the top seed as well.

“I thought the top four could be a lot of different combinations,” he said. “We really didn’t know what to expect, but I kind of looked for Oxford to be No. 1 since they didn’t have but one (county) loss.”

And now the Lady Wildcats are thrown on the same side of the bracket with Jacksonville, who they’ll play for a third time Thursday at Saks for their area title. They wouldn’t meet until the tournament semifinals, but another set of area rivals, Pleasant Valley and Piedmont, who also play Thursday (at PV), are first-round foes.

“I just hope we get the chance to play (Jacksonville); I hope we’re that far along (in the tournament),” Law said. “There are some good teams we have to beat before then.”

Even though the Jackets are No. 1 — and on the opposite sides of the bracket from Saks and defending champion Jacksonville, there are no guarantees of a title. Clark expects the top six seeds to hold serve until late in the day.

“You’ve got to play,” McKibbin said. “All eyes are on you. You’ve got a target on your back so you’ve gotta play. All the hype does not matter unless you can perform on that day.”

Tournament officials are hoping by moving it to JSU, the title match — the first high school event in the refurbished coliseum — will take on a big-time feel. Some of the coaches would have liked it a lot more had they been informed of it before already completing their 2015 schedules.

Asked if the tournament would follow the same format next year, Thrasher, Jacksonville’s assistant principal, told the coaches that would be up to a principals’ vote at either their winter or spring meeting.

Varsity Bracket
At Jacksonville High School

Oct. 3

First-round games
(Records are overall, county as of Wednesday)
No. 8 White Plains (8-7, 3-7) vs. Faith Christian (10-10, 4-6), 9 a.m. (Court A)
No. 5 Donoho (21-5, 13-3) vs. No. 12 Weaver (3-19, 2-8), 9 a.m. (B)
No. 4 Alexandria (24-13, 3-3) vs. No. 13 Wellborn (3-13, 1-8), 10:30 a.m. (C)
No. 3 Jacksonville (17-6, 5-3) vs. No. 14 JCA (3-4, 2-3), 10:30 a.m., (B)
No. 6 Pleasant Valley (21-5, 10-4) vs. No. 11 Piedmont (5-13, 2-8), Noon (C)
No. 7 Ohatchee (13-6, 4-4) vs. No. 10 Sacred Heart (9-10, 3-3), 9 a.m. (C)
No. 2 Saks (24-3, 11-2) vs. No. 15 Anniston (0-13, 0-4), 10:30 a.m. (A)

Second-round games
No. 1 Oxford (18-8, 7-1) vs. White Plains-Faith Christian winner, Noon (A)
Donoho-Weaver winner vs. Alexandria-Wellborn winner, Noon (B)
Jacksonville-JCA winner vs. Pleasant Valley-Piedmont winner, 1:30 p.m. (A)
Ohatchee-Sacred Heart winner vs. Saks-Anniston winner, 1:30 p.m. (B)

Upper bracket, 3 p.m. (A)
Lower bracket, 3 p.m. (B)

Oct. 5
At Jacksonville State, 6 p.m.

At Jacksonville High School
First-round pairings

No. 8 Pleasant Valley vs. No. 9 Jacksonville, 9 a.m. (Court A)
No. 5 Oxford vs. No. 12 Ohatchee, 9 a.m. (B)
No. 4 Saks vs. No. 13 JCA, 10:30 a.m. (A)
No. 3 Donoho vs. No. 14 Piedmont, 10:30 a.m. (B)
No. 6 Sacred Heart vs. No. 11 White Plains, 10:30 a.m. (C)
No. 7 Faith Christian vs. No. 10 Weaver, 9 a.m. (C)

Second-round pairings
No. 1 Alexandria vs. Pleasant Valley-Jacksonville winner, Noon (A)
Oxford-Ohatchee winner vs. Saks-JCA winner, 1:30 p.m. (B)
Donoso-Piedmont winner vs. Sacred Heart-White Plains winner, 1:30 p.m. (A)
No. 2 Wellborn vs. Faith Christian-Weaver winner, Noon, (B)

3 p.m. (A, B)

4:30 p.m. (A)

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