E.A. Sports Today

Weaver wants more

Lady Bearcats already have a spot in regional locked up, but they want an area crown and a banner to hang

Weaver's Amira Carter (6) and Mariah Thompson look over the team's 2014 goals that are still relevant -- and achievable -- today.

Weaver’s Amira Carter (6) and Mariah Thompson look over the team’s 2014 goals that are still relevant — and achievable — today.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Shortly before Thursday night’s match at Saks, Weaver volleyball coach Casey Maples handed each of her players a sheet of white paper and told them to look at it. Printed on the other side were the goals they all agreed upon before the season started – in 2014.

It had things on it like ‘Win area (regular season and tournament),’ ‘Get a banner,’ ‘Make it to the Elite Eight,’ ‘Win a ring.’

The list may be two years old, but it’s just as applicable today – and maybe even closer to completing.

The Lady Bearcats already have checked off that first item, courtesy of sweeping area rivals Ohatchee and Wellborn in the regular season, and can start working on the rest Monday when they host the Class 3A Area 9 tournament.

Thanks to the luck of reclassification and a three-team area they already have spot in the North Regional, but they want more. A win over the Ohatchee-Wellborn winner Monday will get them the second part of the ‘Win area’ goal and a banner and move them closer to all the rest.

But every year under Maples, they’ve done a little bit more. The Lady Bearcats have clicked off increasingly more victories in each of Maples’ five seasons, to the point they’re now 17-14 after Thursday’s 3-0 loss on Saks’ Senior Night (25-18, 25-19, 25-13).

“I think our first year we probably had three and my next year five and then we were closer to 10 last season,” Maples said. “This group of juniors … they’ve seen the program all the way through this process. They’re the reason we’ve had the success we’ve had.

“I think they realize they’re thirsty, they’re wanting to get to the next level. They’ve worked hard, they’ve bought into the summer workouts and everything else and I think you’re going to see success from all our girls programs because of that. It’s the same core group of athletes in every sport and they’re very focused.”

It helps, of course, to be in a three-team area. All they really have to do is just show up Monday and they’re going to the regional, but they don’t just want to settle. Finishing it off Monday, Maples said, is “what matters” because their first area crown in more than a decade will get them a more favorable draw in Thursday’s regional opening round.

The odds would seem to favor them – they beat Ohatchee and Wellborn both twice in area counters.

“We want to win our area championship so we can put ourselves in a good position,” sophomore setter Amira Carter said. “We don’t want to just stop at the area, we want to go as far as we can pushing all that we’ve got.”

Carter was 4 the last time Weaver won an area championship. She was an eighth-grader when the goals on that piece of paper she looked at before the match were established and never doubted they’d be reached.

“I totally believed they could come true,” she said. “I totally believed we could do what’s on that sheet.”

The banner would be nice. There currently is none for volleyball in the gym and Weaver principal Mike Allison said they “deserve” one.

“That’s been a goal of this junior class ever since they got to Weaver,” Maples said. “We can see all the wrestling and all the basketball, but we would love to put up a banner with ‘area champs’ on it and we don’t get to do that for the regular season, so that’s something we have to do at the tournament. It’s a goal of theirs, just to sort of see a visual of their work paying off.”

“Every now and again I would just daydream and look at the banners and can already see 2016,” Carter said. “We’re so close. We’re closer than we’ve ever been before.”

It’s been 12 years since Weaver last won an area championship, and a whole lot longer since they went beyond that. AHSAA records indicate the 1984 team made it to the Class 3A Final Four.

“They’re just really excited,” Maples said. “It’s just a really big deal for us.”

For Saks, the win was a good way to go into its area tournament. The Lady Wildcats (29-18) don’t play again until they host their area tournament Tuesday.

Reclassification shuffled the Lady Wildcats into the South, so they’ll be facing a whole new set of teams on its road back to the Elite Eight if they get past Anniston in their opening-round match Tuesday.

Maiya Northard led the Lady Wildcats Thursday with 12 kills. Davonna Stone had eight kills and six blocks, Mischoreia Cole had six kills, Miracle Dennard had 38 assists and LaMonica Noel had nine digs and four blocks.

“We’re starting to come around a little bit, we really are,” Saks coach Randy Law said. “They’re playing with more confidence, they’re having fun. We still made some mistakes, but we’re not making as many as we made earlier in the year. We’re not beating ourselves as bad as we were earlier in the year. (Several Saks players) hadn’t played on the varsity level until this year and they’ve just now started feeling good about themselves.”

Faith Christian 2, Wellborn 0
Faith Christian 2, Anniston 0

Nicole Frechette scored 18 kills and Erin Cheek had 12 of the team’s 26 aces as the Lady Lions (29-17) added to their record win total with a Senior Night sweep.

They beat Anniston 25-8, 25-8, and Wellborn 25-15, 26-24 in their final start until Monday’s area tournament.

“I feel like we are playing our best right now,” Faith coach Bradley Dawson said. “We had a good weekend at West End and I like how we have continually gotten better over the last couple weeks. I am excited for Monday to see how we come out and play.”

Cornelia Simpson, one of three seniors recognized during the match, had 11 kills. Abby Emerson, another senior, had 30 assists. Morgan Robinette, another senior, had three kills and three blocks.

Here are the Lady Lions’ statistics for the night.

KILLS (36) – Cornelia Simpson 11, Abby Emerson 1, Morgan Robinette 3, Montana Huie 2, Nicole Frechette 18, Zana Christjohn 1.

ACES (26) – Abby Emerson 1, Nicole Frechette 3, Zana Christjohn 4, Erin Cheek 12, C.J. Setters 1, Abby Kazanjian 5.

DIGS (33) – Abby Emerson 5, Morgan Robinette 4, Nichole Frechette 8, Zana Christjohn 4, Emily Sills 3, Sarah Kate McVeigh 2, Erin Cheek 3, Abby Kazanjian 4.

BLOCKS (7) – Morgan Robinette 3, Montana Huie 1, Nicole Frechette 1, Zana Christjohn 1, Emily Sills 1.

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