E.A. Sports Today

Jackets buzz into finals

Oxford looking for better result in return to county title match; faces inspired Pleasant Valley team Monday at JSU

Winter Taylor scored 11 kills in Oxford's semifinal victory over Alexandria and 18 in the Yellow Jackets' two wins. (Photo by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

Winter Taylor scored 11 kills in Oxford’s semifinal victory over Alexandria and 18 in the Yellow Jackets’ two wins. (Photo by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – The Oxford volleyball players were spread around the floor near their bench breaking down their gear after another victory all the while keeping a close eye on what was happening across the floor.

The Yellow Jackets had just secured their spot in another Calhoun County Tournament final with a straight-set win over Alexandria and were eager to discover the identity of their opponent.

As the No. 1 seed, the Yellow Jackets (28-12) drew an opening-round bye, then dispatched White Plains 25-20, 25-9, 25-19 and No. 4 Alexandria 25-17, 25-13, 25-19 to make the finals. They’ll play sixth-seeded Pleasant Valley (28-5) Monday at Jacksonville State for the championship.

They are in the title match for the second year in a row and seventh time in the last 12 years, but they’ve won it only twice – 2004 and 2007. Last year they lost to Jacksonville in three sets.

“I think we’re in a spot we’re here to redeem ourselves and I think we have a good chance of doing just that,” confident senior Laura Davenport said. “If we play our game and play as a team we have a great chance of finally winning it.”

The Jackets played together better than they have in recent matches Saturday.

In the semifinals against Alexandria, Breanna Nolan had 10 kills and 13 digs, Winter Taylor 11 kills and five digs, Sara Connell nine kills and 16 digs, and Chloe Stone 10 digs and 35 assists.

For the day, Nolan had 16 kills and 26 digs, Nyia Archie had 21 kills and eight blocks, Taylor had 18 kills and eight digs, Connell had 13 kills and 25 digs, and Stone had 72 assists and 14 digs. Karagan Timmons had 14 digs.

“We played well and played good together,” Jackets coach Wendy McKibbin said. “I think we controlled the match on our side.

“We let them come back for a couple points, but it’s not like we’d done in the past where we made three or four mistakes in a row. We responded. In the first set against White Plains we didn’t play to our level, but the more we played, the better we got.”

The first two sets against the Valley Cubs went without much drama, but the third set was tight. It was tied 16 times until the Jackets scored the final three points to win.

“The kids came out and played well today and responded,” McKibbin said. “We’ll see what happens on Monday.

“The county tournament always is an emotional and exciting tournament, but with the new parameters of how they have it set up, when the game comes, you’ve got to be able to perform. I think my kids are ready to play whoever.”

OXFORD’S COUNTY FINALS RECORD

2004 – defeated Saks, 2-1
2005 – lost to Jacksonville, 2-0
2007 – defeated Jacksonville, 3-2
2008 – lost to Jacksonville, 3-0
2010 – lost to Jacksonville, 3-0
2014 – lost to Jacksonville, 3-0
2015 – vs. Pleasant Valley, Monday, 6 p.m.

Taylor Ellison keeps the ball alive in Oxford's semifinal victory over Alexandria. (Photo by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

Taylor Ellison keeps the ball alive in Oxford’s semifinal victory over Alexandria. (Photo by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)



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