E.A. Sports Today

Seeding showdown

Oxford stops Pleasant Valley in battle of top two volleyball tourney seeds; Faith beats Ranburne with balanced hitting

Oxford's Alex Gomez (3) goes way up to spike against Pleasant Valley. (All photos by Daniel Lee, Tanner Richards/Tank Photography)

Oxford’s Alex Gomez (3) goes way up to spike against Pleasant Valley. (All photos by Daniel Lee, Tanner Richards/Tank Photography)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Oxford made a statement about the validity of this weekend’s Calhoun County Volleyball Tournament seedings Thursday night when the No. 2 seed knocked off top-seeded Pleasant Valley in two sets in their final matches before the event.

The Lady Jackets won the first set 25-22 and staved off a furious PV rally to win the second 26-24.

PV, now 30-3, was undefeated when the tournament seedings were determined, but the argument could be made for Oxford — the defending champs – the Lady Jackets played a tougher schedule.

In the end PV’s undefeated record tilted the scales with the Lady Raiders received two-thirds of the first-place ballots. But most of the coaches will tell you it’s the way a team plays on the floor that will determine the best team in the tournament.

It was the first match between the teams since Oxford beat the Lady Raiders in last year’s tournament final. And it has been a busy week for both teams.

The Lady Jackets (27-13) may have been more driven Thursday by recent events rather than any real or imagined seeding snub. They also recently had a lineup shuffle in which they switched their outside players front to back for better ball movement.

Oxford beat Southside-Gadsden and No. 4 county tournament seed Alexandria on Tuesday, clinching home-court advantage in their area tournament in the process. PV, meanwhile, lost to county No. 3 Jacksonville.

“We didn’t have a good tournament last weekend and had a heart-to-heart with the kids after we lost to Hillcrest in the quarterfinals,” Oxford coach Wendy McKibbin said. “We just told them it’s your season, it’s your team, it’s what you put into it, it’s what you do.

“We made a lineup change and they’ve played well from Monday on. … They’re just playing together. They’re having fun. They’re playing hard. That’s fun volleyball right there. We didn’t quit, we fought and we came out on top tonight. I had a lot of fun tonight.”

PV coach Dana Bryant, meanwhile, while disappointed with the loss was encouraged by her team’s rally in the second set. After losing a close first set, they fell behind 11-3 early in the second, fought back to get within 15-14 and after falling behind again rallied to lead 24-23 before Oxford won the final three points of the night.

“I had a few players who had a bit of a-deer-in-the-headlight look and the pressure came on and finally they figured out how to stand on their own two feet about halfway through that middle game and that was something we’ve been needing,” PV coach Dana Bryant said. “We can go from there.

“This intense play is something we’ve been needing. To see them finally emerge and keep playing instead of backing off was real big.”

At 15-14 in the second, the Lady Jackets went on a 6-1 burst to pull back ahead. Nyia Archie scored a slam and a point off a block, then in the final four-point flurry, Archie scored a kill, Rachel Uhrin scored two points at the net and JoJo Skinner killed a spike.

Archie had 10 of her 19 kills in the PV match. Skinner had seven and Uhrin had six.

“A team like that you can not get yourself in any hole because they will take that and they will run with it,” Archie said. “We’d like to do the same, but you cannot dig yourself in a hole. That’s something we work on. If you get the lead and then they start coming back you slowly get the game down get your momentum and you just keep going with it.”

Both teams beat Saks (21-13) in two sets in the other two matches of the tri-match.

“Both of them are good volleyball teams,” Saks coach Randy Law said. “We didn’t give either one of them much of a challenge. We just didn’t step up like I hoped we’d do. There are a lot of good volleyball teams out there in the county. It’s going to be who plays well that day.”

PLEASANT VALLEY 2, SAKS 0 (25-13, 25-15)
OXFORD 2, SAKS 0 (25-15, 25-15)
OXFORD 2, PLEASANT VALLEY 0 (25-22, 26-24)

KILLS – PV: Cammy Cochran 18, Anna Bryant 15, Alisa St. John 7, Blakely Malsy 8, Mikayla Kendrick 6, Savannah Williams 2; Saks: Maiya Northard 9, LaMonica Noel 6, Davonna Stone 8, Kylah Williams 1, Mischoreia Cole 2; Oxford: Alex Hammond 6, Chloe Stone 3, Makayla Kidd 1, Nyia Archie 19, JoJo Skinner 17, Rachel Uhrin 10.

ASSISTS – PV: Anna Bryant 21, Savannah Williams 23; Saks: Miracle Dennard 26, Madison Gable 1; Oxford: Alex Hammond 1, Chloe Stone 31, Makayla Kidd 1, Emma Connell 1.

ACES – PV: Cammy Cochran 4, Alisa St. John 1, Blakely Malsy 2, Savannah Williams 1, Madison Bentley 1; Saks: Lamonica Noel 1; Oxford: Alex Gomez 1, Makayla Kidd 3.

DIGS – PV: Cammy Cochran 10, Anna Bryant 12, Alisa St. John 17, Blakely Malsy 7, Mikayla Kendrick 2, Savannah Williams 3, Madison Bentley 11, Taylor Williams 5; Saks: Lamonica 2, Maiya Northard 1, Ashlee Bryant 2, Madison Gable 2, Miracle Dennard 2; Oxford: Alex Hammond 2, Alex Gomez 17, Chloe Stone 6, Makayla Kidd 7, Nyia Archie 2, Abby Bussey 15; Harmony Lynch 1, JoJo Skinner 14.

BLOCKS – PV: Cammy Cochran 6, Anna Bryant 1, Alisa St. John 1, Blakely Malsy 6, Mikayla Kendrick 5; Saks: Lamonica Noel 3, Davonna Stone 2, Kylan Williams 1, Mischoreia Cole 3; Oxford: Nyia Archie 1, Rachel Uhrin 2.

Pleasant Valley's Blakely Malsy (24) meets Oxford's Nyia Archie at the net for a block.

Pleasant Valley’s Blakely Malsy (24) meets Oxford’s Nyia Archie at the net for a block.

Faith Christian 3, Ranburne 0

RANBURNE — The Lady Lions got 30 kills from eight players and had an impressive .330 hitting percentage as a team in beating Ranburne 25-15, 25-22, 28-26.

Nicole Frechette (.292) had eight kills and was one of six Lady Lions with a hitting percentage above .280. The others were Morgan Robinette (.429), Montana Huie (.286), Zana Christjohn (.364), Emily Sills (.571) and Sarah Kate McVeigh (.333).

Frechette and Sills had eight digs apiece, while Cornelia Simpson had six digs and three blocks. Abby Kazanjian had 21 digs and four of the Lady Lions’ 12 aces. Zana, Sills and Simpson had four kills apiece.

Faith Christian takes a 17-14 record into Saturday’s county tournament.

Pleasant Valley's Alisa St. John reached back for all she has to send a shot back across the net. On the cover, Oxford's Rachel Uhrin makes a play at the net.

Pleasant Valley’s Alisa St. John reached back for all she has to send a shot back across the net. On the cover, Oxford’s Rachel Uhrin makes a play at the net.

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