E.A. Sports Today

Jackets jolt J’ville

Oxford wins Round One in battle of county volleyball heavyweights; Pleasant Valley, Sacred Heart both sweep opponents

Jacksonville's Elizabeth Poe (2) plays the ball at the net in the first game of her team's match with Oxford Tuesday. On the cover, Oxford's Rachel Uhrin (30) gets it over. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Jacksonville’s Elizabeth Poe (2) plays the ball at the net in the first game of her team’s match with Oxford Tuesday. On the cover, Oxford’s Rachel Uhrin (30) gets it over. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – The fastest way to get over an inconsistent tournament weekend is to get right back on the floor and beat a quality opponent.

The Oxford volleyball team is still in search of an identity, but the Lady Jackets took a big step in that direction Tuesday. They rebounded from a tough showing in the Juanita Boddie Tournament in Hoover by going on the road and beating Jacksonville 3-1 (25-22, 21-25, 26-24, 25-18) in a match that had all the intensity you’d expect from a battle of county heavyweights.

All four games were tight and to be the team that came through them best does wonders going forward.

“This is big confidence for us,” Oxford coach Wendy McKibbin said. “We didn’t play to the best of our ability this weekend. We worked a lot on certain skills yesterday at practice and the kids took what we did at practice into the match today.

“You may have a bad day, but you’ve got to respond. We’re still finding ourselves. We’ve got a lot of kids who are not used to playing with each other. We’ve got a young team. We’re getting our chemistry together. So, I thought they played well tonight.”

Each team jumped out to early leads in the first two games before the other rallied to make them close. Oxford opened a 14-3 lead in Game One off JoJo Skinner’s serve, but found itself clinging to a 23-22 lead late. Jacksonville opened an 11-2 lead in Game Two before the Lady Jackets tightened it back up.

Game Three was most pivotal and couldn’t have been tighter. It was tied 12 times and there were six lead changes, the last when Oxford scored the winning points off two Jacksonville return errors.

The Lady Jackets took control of the clinching fourth game with an 8-1 run that broke a 15-all tie, the eighth tie of the game.

“This win is a huge win for county for us,” Skinner said. “It really boosts a lot of our confidence because Jacksonville is a really good team and us coming out here competing and beating them and going four games with them it really helps us going into the next seeding for County.

“To come out here fighting and giving our total body sacrifice – TBS, which we talk about a lot – it helped us find ourselves and define us as a team.”

The Lady Eagles are also a team searching for themselves, a team searching for some consistency. They’re going through some issues they went through last year, things coach David Clark didn’t think he’d have to go through with so many older players returning. It has left him contemplating taking a “hard look” at every element of the team.

Fortunately, it’s early enough to affect change. Clark made some changes to correct the situation last year and the Lady Eagles responded by storming to the state’s semifinals.

“We’re just not very good, we’re not very consistent, we’re not well-coached, we don’t have a whole lot of discipline,” Clark said. “It makes it hard to be successful when we can’t at least be disciplined in what we’re supposed to do.

“We’ve got to figure out a way how to win. That’s not usually been a problem, but I’m starting to think maybe it is. I’m not seeing enough people willing to be big when they need to be big and finishing points and not letting things get out of control like they do sometimes.”

The teams meet again next Thursday in Oxford.


OXFORD (5-4) – Alex Gomez four kills, 13 digs; Alex Hammond two assists, 27 digs; Chloe Stone three kills, 29 assists, eight digs; Makayla Kidd 10 kills, 10 digs; Abby Bussey 11 digs; Nyia Archie 11 kills; JoJo Skinner six kills, four digs, four aces; Rachel Uhrin seven kills.

JACKSONVILLE (4-2) – Elizabeth Poe seven kills, 14 assists, four blocks, 38 digs; Aniyah Robinson 11 kills, four assists, 23 digs; Sierra Stone eight kills, nine assists, eight blocks, four aces; Sarah Lumpkin three kills, 10 blocks; Reagan Stallings 13 assists, 46 digs; Caitlyn Ryan four assists, 18 digs, two aces; Tatiyana Thomas 45 assists; Brooke Murphy 56 assists.

Oxford 25 21 26 25
Jacksonville 22 25 24 18

Oxford's JoJo Skinner (R) gets the ball over the net despite the best efforts of two Jacksonville defenders. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Oxford’s JoJo Skinner (R) gets the ball over the net despite the best efforts of two Jacksonville defenders. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Pleasant Valley 2, Faith Christian 0
Pleasant Valley 3, Piedmont 0
Faith Christian 2, Piedmont 0

JACKSONVILLE — In a rematch of the Saks Invitational final, Pleasant Valley validated its Saturday victory with a 25-21, 25-15 victory over Faith Christian.

Earlier, the Lady Raiders defeated Piedmont 25-17, 25-18, 25-9, and Faith defeated Piedmont 25-17, 25-18.

The stats: Pleasant Valley (8-0) — Cammy Cochran 20 kills, four aces, 13 digs; Alisa St. John served at 94 percent with seven aces, 21 digs; Blakely Malsey served at 100 percent with one ace.

Faith Christian (8-3) – Cornelia Simpson 10 kills, five digs. Zana Christjohn six kills. Nicole Frechette six digs, four kills, three aces.

“I thought we actually played better Saturday; we passed the ball at lot better Saturday,” Faith coach Bradley Dawson said. “But Pleasant Valley is tough; they served the ball extremely well tonight. We struggled in serve receive. If we do not pass it well it’s hard to run our offense.”

Sacred Heart 2, Glencoe 0
Sacred Heart 2, Wellborn 0

The Lady Cardinals (3-4) bounced back from a tough tournament appearance to beat Glencoe 25-17, 25-13 and host Wellborn 25-20, 25-17. Ayanna Foster returned to her former school and had 10 kills and four blocks in the two matches.

The stats: Sacred Heart — Megan Lott six kills, nine aces, four digs. Jarece Tillery six aces, 18 digs. Jayla Woods 23 assists, 10 digs. Haley Shaw five kills, three blocks, three assists, two aces, five digs. Deborah Greene seven kills, two blocks, one assist, 10 digs. Jumoke Sanusi four kills, five aces, eight digs.

“Right now we’re trying to bounce back from having a rough tournament over the weekend, so the wins tonight were a good confidence boost for the girls,” Sacred Heart coach Peyton van Ekris said. “Hopefully we will continue to do well the rest of the season.”

Oxford libero Alex Hammond goes after one of her 27 digs in Tuesday's match against Jacksonville. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Oxford libero Alex Hammond goes after one of her 27 digs in Tuesday’s match against Jacksonville. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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