E.A. Sports Today

‘A great day for us’

Decatur Heritage wins Donoho Classic, setting the tone for the rest of its season; PV suffers its first loss in semifinals

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Decatur Heritage’s road to the Donoho Classic volleyball championship Saturday was paved with a lot of obstacles and bad memories the Lady Eagles would rather avoid.

The second-ranked Lady Eagles won the annual showcase of state championship contenders with a 2-0 victory over third-ranked Donoho, 25-20, 25-15. In doing so they ridded themselves of some bad karma.

In beating their hosts, the Lady Eagles avenged a four-set loss in last year’s Class 1A state semifinals and outdueled a coach who earlier in the day surpassed a coaching milestone.

In getting to that final, they beat a Pleasant Valley team that had yet to lose this season and took them down in the Silver Bracket finals here a year ago.

“Today has been a great day for us because this weekend has set the tone for the rest of our season,” Decatur Heritage coach Kelly Garland said. “I don’t think they thought stepping onto the court there was anything because they beat us. Our goal this weekend was to play together, for everyone to do their part, and play well.

“This gives my team more confidence. We’re going to have a tough first round in the region and this gives them confidence they can beat anyone they pull that’s on the other side of the net.”

Donoho reached the finals of its tournament by sweeping its pool (Wellborn, West End and Holy Spirit) and taking out Southside 25-16, 25-21 in the semifinals. The win over Wellborn was the 300th in Lady Falcons coach Janice Slay’s career.

Speaking of milestones, Decatur Heritage senior Cassidy Cheatham recorded her 1,000th career dig earlier in the day, a fact she proudly commemorated with a sign she displayed in the team’s celebratory photo.

Pleasant Valley’s loss to the Lady Eagles in the semifinals (22-25, 25-23,15-9) was its first after starting the season with 23 consecutive victories. There were signs of trouble earlier in the day.

PV, ranked No. 6 in 3A, had lost only two sets all season coming into the tournament, but Silver Bracket champion Faith Christian came from six points down to win the second set of their pool-play match and then led for a time in the tiebreaker.

“We had a bad game and we’ve had bad games this season, we just haven’t had them against teams that come back and won,” PC coach Dana Bryant said. “This is not the first bad game we’ve had, it’s just the first bad game we’ve had in a loss.

“This was our Homecoming Week and I could tell they were just very tired coming into today. Because of the long week the girls have had with all the festivities going on I knew coming in today would have been a tough day for us to keep trucking on.”

Faith Christian beat two Calhoun County rivals to win the Silver Bracket. The Lady Lions beat Sacred Heart in the semifinals 25-23, 25-22, gaining a measure of revenge for the area loss they suffered to the Lady Cardinals on Thursday. Then they beat White Plains in the bracket final, 29-27, 18-25, 15-11.

Zana Christjohn 9, Cornelia Simpson 42, Abby Kazanjian 3, Abby Emerson 3, Emily Sills 10, Morgan Robinette 9, Montana Huie 3, Nicole Frechette 29.

ASSISTS: Abby Emerson 89.

ACES: Zana Christjohn 1, Cornelia Simpson 7, Abby Kazanjian 6, Abby Emerson 5, Emily Sills 4, Nicole Frechette 5.

DIGS: Zana Christjohn 2, Cornelia Simpson 28, Abby Kazanjian 46, Abby Emerson 19, Emily Sills 4, Morgan Robinette 1, Montana Huie 1, Nicole Frechette 27, Erin Cheek 5.

BLOCKS: Zana Christjohn 4, Cornelia Simpson 4, Morgan Robinette 8, Nicole Frechette 1.

Cammy Cochran 32, Anna Bryant 30, Alisa St. John 19, Blakely Malsy 11, Mikayla Kendrick 9, Savannah Williams 4, Heaven Rush 2.

ASSISTS: Anna Bryant 25, Savannah Williams 46.

ACES: Cammy Cochran 3, Anna Bryant 4, Alisa St. John 6, Blakely Malsy 4, Savannah Williams 1, Madi Bentley 3, Maggie Hedgepath 1, Cailyln Steele 2.

DIGS: Cammy Cochran 28, Anna Bryant 20, Alisa St. John 37, Blakely Malsy 11, Mikayla Kendrick 6, Savannah Williams 14, Madi Bentley 26, Taylor Williams 8, Maggie Hedgepath1, Cailyln Steele 1, Heaven Rush 1.

BLOCKS: Cammy Cochran 3, Anna Bryant 5, Alisa St. John 2, Blakely Malsy 8, Mikayla Kendrick 11.

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