E.A. Sports Today

Jackets step up

Oxford takes down a team that beat it twice during the season for area tournament title; Alexandria wins its area tournament

By East Alabama Sports Today

CHELSEA – The Oxford volleyball team knew it would guarantee a trip to the super regionals by winning its first match Tuesday night, but the Yellow Jackets wanted more.

The Jackets won that first match, then defeated top-seed and host Chelsea in three sets to win the three-team Class 6A Area 10 tournament.

They beat Pell City to punch their ticket to Huntsville 25-14, 25-13 and 25-13, then took down a Chelsea team that had beaten them twice during the regular season 25-18, 25-17, 25-21.

“The kids play really well,” Oxford coach Wendy McKibbin said. “We lost to them twice in the regular season and had to travel there. We wanted to come to their place and play well and finish 1 in the area because we knew we’d get a 2 from another area (in the first round of the super regional).”

The Yellow Jackets (37-17) now play Area 15 runner-up Austin at 6:45 p.m. Friday in the VonBraun Center. Austin lost to Hartselle 3-0 in its area final.

“We found a way to win,” McKibbin said. “I challenged them to play. We’ve got six seniors and there are two weeks left in the season for volleyball in the state of Alabama. A lot of them are not going to the next level so this might be the last time for them.

“We’ve done it periodically at times, but today we stepped up and got to balls we hadn’t been getting to and everybody (contributed).”

Winter Taylor was named tournament MVP after recording 20 kills, 10 digs and three blocks in the two matches. Nyia Archie (18 kills, four blocks); Chloe Stone (53 assists, 13 digs, three kills and three aces); and Karagan Timmons (17 digs) joined her on the all-tournament team.

Among the Jackets’ other statistical leaders, Breanna Nolan had 11 kills and 27 digs, and Taylor Ellison had 15 digs.

“Winter played really well,” McKibbin said. “She picked up a lot of stuff we worked on in practice and executed. She did a lot of good things tonight. She got to ball she didn’t normally get to and at times we needed a momentum change she got a tip or hit a ball into a place they weren’t.

“Chloe played really well, too. She did a good job of spreading the floor and made a lot of good decisions who to set up. She had a good evening of volleyball.”

The difference between the two regular-season matches with Chelsea and Tuesday’s tournament final was simply the Yellow Jackets didn’t get behind.

“We’re starting to play the way we’re capable of playing and hoping we’re peaking at the right time going into regional play,” McKibbin said.

Class 5A, Area 12

Alexandria won its area tournament, defeating Lincoln in three sets, 25-10, 25-12, 25-17.

The Lady Cubs will play Area 14 runner-up West Point in its superregional opener Friday at 10:15 a.m. Lincoln will face area champion Lawrence County at 12:45 p.m.

Lawrence County defeated West Point in three sets, 25-14, 25-17, 25-13.

On the cover: Winter Taylor (23), the area tournament MVP, leads Oxford’s celebration off the bench after the Yellow Jackets won the Calhoun County Tournament earlier this season. (Photo by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

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