E.A. Sports Today


Jacksonville locks up home-court advantage for area tournament with sweep of White Plains

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — The Jacksonville volleyball team secured hosting rights for the Class 4A Area 11 tournament Monday with a three-set win over White Plains.

The Golden Eagles won their Senior Day match 25-23, 25-10 and 25-21.

Jacksonville and Saks finished tied atop the area standings and split in their two meetings by identical 3-1 scores, but the Golden Eagles earned the host’s nod by scoring three more total points in their two head-to-head area matches.

The area tournament is Oct. 20. Jacksonville will play fourth-seeded Cleburne County, while Saks will play No. 3 White Plains. The two winners play for the area title and both advance to the super regionals in Huntsville.

“(Securing the top seed) meant something to us because we really had to work for it this year,” Golden Eagles sophomore left hitter Elizabeth Poe said. “White Plains had beaten Alexandria on their Senior Night and we knew they would play hard, but it was important for us to come out here (strong) because we had to sweep them. We knew what we had to do, and it was a little bit of a test for us about how we could play under pressure.”

The match may have been a three-set sweep, but it was far from an easy win. The Golden Eagles won the first set after White Plains rallied from 23-17 down to tie it at 23. The Wildcats made a similar run in the third set, rallying from 21-16 down to tie it at 21.

“We played like we were out of school, which is always an adventure,” Jacksonville coach David Clark said. “I thought we did what we needed to do to win the game. I didn’t think it was fantastic by any stretch, but we did enough.”

Aniyah Robinson had 19 kills for the Golden Eagles (23-8). Poe had 12 kills. Tatiyana Thomas had 20 assists and Halee Holtbrooks, one of four seniors recognized before the match, had 18.

Sierra Stone returned to the Jacksonville lineup for the first time in a week and showed little signs of the ankle injury that sidelined her for last week’s victories over the two Calhoun County Tournament finalists. She scored five kills and five blocks.

“It felt good; it felt like normal,” Stone said. “I missed my team, even though I didn’t have a problem cheering for them from the bench.”

Stone and the Golden Eagles return to the floor Tuesday at Pleasant Valley, then go to Guntersville Saturday to play last year’s 5A runners-up, reigning 3A state champion Bayside Academy and reigning 6A champ John Carroll.

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