E.A. Sports Today

Faith goes one up

Lady Lions take upper hand in their area with 3-1 win over Sacred Heart; Oxford drops pair and other scores

Faith Christian’s Zana Christjohn (13) drives the ball back across the net against Sacred Heart. On the cover, new Lady Lions coach Justin Kisor applauds his team’s play Thursday night. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The Faith Christian volleyball team played two matches against area rivals in tournament settings already this year, but Thursday night was going to be a truer indicator for the Lady Lions and new coach Justin Kisor of what their immediate future would hold.

In the new hot rivalry in Class 1A Area 10 volleyball, the Lady Lions scored a 3-1 area victory over Sacred Heart.

The match had all the intensity of a neighborhood rivalry. The game scores were 25-23, 14-25, 25-21, 25-19.

“This win was really exhilarating, probably one of the best ones,” Faith’s Zana Christjohn said. “It’s the first area game so it meant a lot more compared to some of the other games. This was what we’ve been working for all year and this is leading up to area and regionals and state. To start it off on such a good note has really got me pumped.”

Faith had beaten the Lady Cardinals in a tri-match 2-0 a couple weeks ago, but this one wasn’t anywhere close to that easy.

Game 1 was a back-and-forth affair and the Lady Lions trailed 23-22 before Christjohn scored back-to-back kills to put them in front and set up the winning point. Game 2 was all Sacred Heart as the Lady Cardinals used a 10-0 run to pull away from an 11-11 tie and scored 14 of the game’s last 17 points.

“We were more ready to play them this time, for sure,” said Sacred Heart coach Peyton van Ekris, who coached many of the current Faith players during her one year helping with their program. “I feel it was a better game this time around. It brought a confidence in my girls that they could see they could bounce back from being down, but we also have to learn to stick with that boost of energy and confidence.”

A fast start gave Faith control of Game 3 and Game 4 was no contest as the Lady Lions jumped to leads of 7-2, 14-4 and 19-7.

“They brought the fight to us and our girls were on their heels, but I knew we had the heart to come back,” Kisor said. “That first game was huge and I kind of felt whoever won that first set was going to win (the match), and I knew our girls were going to pull through.

“They spanked us (in the second game) and we needed that. I told them we needed to play our volleyball now and that last set really showed it. Our girls fight and fight and keep fighting. If we didn’t fight tonight we would’ve lost.”

Christjohn had five kills in the match, all at seemingly critical points. Nicole Frechette had 10 kills and three aces. Erin Cheek had 21 assists and Abby Kazanjian 10 digs.

Ayanna Foster led Sacred Heart with 12 kills and seven blocks. Jumoke Sanusi had five kills, seven aces and 13 digs.

Faith improved to 9-2. Sacred Heart fell to 7-4. The Lady Lions are 6-1 against county teams, which could go a long way towards a high seed at Wednesday’s county tournament seeding meeting at Oxford, and have lost only six games in 11 matches.

The win gives the Lady Lions the early upper hand in their area. They’re confident they can get back to the regionals after going in 2015 but missing last season.

“This group has been together for so many years and I think this is the year that we really get to show that (experience),” Frechette said. “Tonight, we had a conversation in practice and coach said we just need to hit them hard, come out strong, and we did that.

“I think we really succeeded our goal and that was something I don’t know we would have accomplished last year. Two years ago, maybe even last year, we would’ve gotten in a hole (after losing the second game like they did) and we probably would have lost that (third) game. I think we’re more mature and we really, really want it this year.”

To see a gallery of photos from the match visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

Faith’s Abby Kazanjian keeps the ball alive with one of her 10 digs. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

(25-23, 14-25, 25-21, 25-19)

KILLS – Sacred Heart: Jumoke Sanusi 5, Jacque Beyerle 4, Ayanna Foster 12, Sophia Allen 4, Mary Kate Middlebrook 2, Alissa Bell 3, Deborah Becote 2. Faith: Montana Huie 2, Nicole Frechette 10, Zana Christjohn 5, Emily Sills 3, Abby Kazanjian 1, Sydnee Johnson 3.

ASSISTS – Sacred Heart: Jayla Woods 11, Ayanna Foster 2, Sophia Allen 14, Deborah Becote 1. Faith: Erin Cheek 21, Nicole Frechette 1, Emily Sills 1, Sarah Kate McVeigh 1.

DIGS – Sacred Heart: Jumoke Sanusi 13, Jacque Beyerle 5, Jayla Woods 2, Ayanna Foster 4, Sophia Allen 3, Mary Kate Middlebrook 2, Seanna Johnson 4, Angel Nguyen 12, Deborah Becote 11. Faith: Erin Cheek 1, Nichole Frechette 2, Zana Christjohn 1, S.J. Christjohn 2, Emily Sills 3, Abby Kazanjian 10.

BLOCKS – Sacred Heart: Jumoke Sanusi 1, Ayanna Foster 7, Angel Nguyen 3. Faith: Zana Christjohn 1, Sydnee Johnson 1.

ACES – Sacred Heart: Jumoke Sanusi 7, Sophia Allen 1, Seanna Johnson 1. Faith: Erin Cheek 2, Nicole Frechette 3, Zana Christjohn 1, S.J. Christjohn 1, Emily Sills 2, Abby Kazanjian 1, Sarah Kate McVeigh 1.

Other matches
Wellborn 3, Ohatchee 0 (25-10, 25-22, 25-16)
Ashville 2, Oxford 1 (13-25, 20-25, 15-12)
Moody 2, Oxford 1 (19-25, 25-19, 16-14)
Pleasant Valley 3, Glencoe 0 (25-17, 25-12, 25-12)
Glencoe 2, Hokes Bluff 0 (25-22, 27-25)

OXFORD DROPS 2: A day after securing a key area victory at home, Oxford went on the road and dropped a pair of tight 2-1 non-area matches. The Lady Jackets fell to Ashville 13-25, 25-20, 15-12 and Moody 19-25, 25-19, 16-14.

Emma Connell led the Lady Jackets (4-8) with five aces, seven digs and 31 assists. Their two young middles, Shania Vincent and Kiersten Woods, had nine kills and nine digs and six kills, respectively. Harmony Lynch had four kills and nine digs.

Coaches, be sure to report your match results and match statistics to almusky@aol.com

Nicole Frechette goes for the point against Sacred Heart’s defense at the net. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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