E.A. Sports Today

Golden Eagles drop heartbreaker

Jacksonville falls in fifth-set tiebreaker 15-13 in Class 4A semifinals

Jacksonville's Elizabeth Poe keeps a ball alive in the match against Brooks. On the cover, Sierra Stone smashes a point over the net. Below, Brandi Canady serves. (Photos by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

Jacksonville’s Elizabeth Poe keeps a ball alive in the match against Brooks. On the cover, Sierra Stone smashes a point over the net. Below, Brandi Canady serves. (Photos by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

BIRMINGHAM — To get back to the Class 4A state championship match, Jacksonville knew it had to get by an old nemesis.

The Golden Eagles gave Brooks a tough fight – the toughest of their three matches this season – even extending it to a tiebreaker, but in the end they lost a heartbreaking fifth set 15-13 and were eliminated in the Final Four 3-2 at the Crossplex.

“It was hard because of the way it went,” Jacksonville coach David Clark said. “I thought we really had them on the ropes and then we let them off.”

Brooks, which now meets St. James for the state title Thursday at 2 p.m., won the first set 25-16 without either team doing much attacking. Jacksonville was more aggressive in the next two sets and won them 25-16 and 24-16, and then Brooks changed tactics and tied the match 25-13.

The Golden Eagles led in the tiebreaker 8-5 and 9-6. At that point, the top-ranked Lady Lions (43-10) started looking to Erin Jewell and it proved the difference.

Jewell, a 5-foot-10 middle/outside hitter, scored two straight kills to give her team a 12-10 lead and two more later to extend the lead to 14-12. She had 20 kills in the match.

Jacksonville was serving at 14-13 to extend the match, but Brooks notched the clinching point when Aniyah Robinson hit a return into the net.

Robinson was Jacksonville’s most productive hitter with 18 kills. Sierra Stone had 13 kills and nine blocks. Elizabeth Poe had 11 kills and eight digs. Tatiyana Thomas had 21 assists and Halee Holtbrooks had 14 assists.

“In Game 5 we just ran out of time, ran out of room,” Clark said. “We had a couple chances. In a game like that there are two or three balls that makes a difference in the whole match.”

Another key element in the match was Brooks switching its rotation in the third game to get Jewell away from Stone.

“I knew he did it,” Clark said. “I thought about moving mine, but I had a really, really good coach tell me one time the biggest mistake people make is they get somewhere and they try to change what they’re doing. He said you need to ride with the girl who brought you.

“We stuck with what we did. We’ve won and lost that way and we weren’t going to change. It was a good idea on his part, but it didn’t make any difference as far as what we were doing.”

Brooks had beaten Jacksonville 3-0 in both previous meetings, as recent as the North super regional semifinal.

“A month ago if you had given me the same situation we were in I’d have taken it because I didn’t know if we’d even get here,” Clark said. “We had people who … did some things that maybe they weren’t real comfortable doing and accepted it. It was a lot of fun the last two or three weeks.”

IMG_5708



You must be logged in to post a comment Login