E.A. Sports Today

Making a case

Pleasant Valley makes its case for top seed as teams jockey for county tournament seeding gold

Pleasant Valley’s Alisa St. John (2) and Rylee Haynes throw up a defense against Alexandria’s China Lane. On the cover, the Lady Raiders go through strategy during a timeout. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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Monday’s matches
Pleasant Valley 3, Alexandria 0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-17)
Faith Christian 3, Wellborn 2 (25-18, 23-25, 25-16, 23-25, 15-13)
Jacksonville 2, Oxford 1 (25-20, 20-25, 15-10)
Jacksonville 2, Albertville (13-25, 25-23, 15-7)
Oxford 2, Albertville 1 (25-17, 16-25, 15-11)
Glencoe 3, Ohatchee 1 (25-19, 25-21, 21-25, 25-13)
Lincoln 2, Fayetteville 0 (25-12, 25-17)
Lincoln 2, Munford 0 (25-19, 25-18)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

There’s a good chance for lively debate at the Calhoun County Volleyball Tournament seeding meeting Wednesday.

It’s a jumble at the top with all three of the prospective top seeds beating each other during this early part of the season. The picture got a little more muddled Monday when Pleasant Valley staked its claim to being No. 1 with a 3-0 matinee sweep of Alexandria, and it got more complicated still when Jacksonville beat Oxford 2-1 later in the day.

Unlike past seeding meetings where the coaches voted to seed the field, this year’s gathering in Oxford is expected to be an open debate for bracket lines similar to what’s been done in the county baseball, softball and basketball tournament meetings.

The County Volleyball Tournament is Oct. 7 at Jacksonville High School, with the finals Oct. 9 at Jacksonville State.

“I think that does open a big discussion,” Jacksonville coach David Clark said Monday night. “I think it’ll be an interesting discussion. I don’t know who the best team is, really, and that’s the tough thing about the County – it’s early. It’s a tough time to make a decision. And everybody doesn’t play everybody.

“It’ll be an interesting day Wednesday. I think it’ll be a lot of discussion. Some years it’s very clear, but there’s always some debate and I think there’s more debate about No. 1 this year than probably any other year I could really remember. It usually turns out the way it’s supposed to turn out.”

Here is what is known: In the head-to-head matchups crucial to the debate, Jacksonville beat shorthanded PV (20-2) in the season-opening match 3-2, Alexandria (12-3) handed Jacksonville its only loss 3-0 and on Monday PV took down Alexandria and Jacksonville (9-1) beat Oxford (6-12), the expected fourth team in the mix.

For what it might be worth PV beat Oxford in a summer exhibition. In fact, the only five games PV has dropped this season have come in the only two matches the Lady Raiders lost – Jacksonville and Saturday to 1A power Addison.

Why is all this important? If the seeds hold to form in the tournament, Nos. 2 and 3 — two of the better teams in the county regardless who they are — will play each other in the semifinals. The No. 1 seed will have the easier road, even if the 4 falls to 6A Oxford, the biggest school in the county.

It should be noted the bracket will follow the basketball model, with the bottom seeds playing among themselves and then moving into the main bracket.

“This (match) should impact the seeding at county, but that was not the purpose of the girls today,” PV coach Dana Bryant said. “That was not a discussion we had as a team. Their goal was to play their best and to play intensely each step. … I think things will come out in the wash.”

Alexandria coach Whitney Welch would be inclined to throw her vote towards PV as the No. 1 after the Lady Raiders came from behind in each of the first two games in Monday’s match and won the third comfortably. The game scores were 25-21, 25-23, 25-17.

The Lady Cubs led 5-0 and 7-2 in the first game, and were ahead 9-2, 17-9 and serving at 23-22 in the second.

“Pleasant Valley’s great and they deserved to win that game, but I felt like we didn’t control what we could control on our side; our mental toughness I was no pleased with at all,” Welch said. “I just thought we came out with no energy, no enthusiasm like we usually have. Even with that we had two big leads and weren’t able to finish and I felt like that was our mindset we came with today. Now it’s all about how they respond.”

The Lady Raiders, meanwhile, were just happy to get back on the winning track. Their loss to Addison in the Donoho Classic Gold Bracket semifinals snapped a 19-match winning streak in which they swept every opponent.

“We got down our last game – we didn’t play very well – but now we got back on and we’re up again,” setter Anna Bryant said. “We did well in our execution and stayed energized the whole game.”

Jacksonville coach David Clark makes a point in the direction of Elizabeth Poe during a timeout Monday. Poe had a hand in five straight points late in Game 3 of the Golden Eagles’ match with Oxford. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

JACKSONVILLE TWICE WINS IN 3: The Golden Eagles joined the conversation about the tournament top seed by turning back host Oxford 2-1 and then bouncing back from Game 1 to beat Albertville 2-1.

Oxford used late runs in each of the first two games to impact the match. The first rally made Game 1 close after Jacksonville opened a 23-12 lead. The second – and 8-0 run – put the Lady Jackets in command of Game 2. The tiebreaker was close early, then Elizabeth Poe had a hand in five straight points as the Golden Eagles took control.

The Golden Eagles let the first game with Albertville get away, but they drew even by winning a tight Game 2 and then steadily pulled away from the clincher. A stern talking-to was b

“I just challenged them,” Clark said. “I felt like we played a little intimidated in Game 1; we thought they were real good and we mentally didn’t get ourselves prepared to compete and I told them that’s not the way you can approach the game. You’ve got to attack the game, you’ve got to attack whoever you’re playing.

“I stress all the time it makes no difference who’s on the other side, we’re playing against ourselves and what we’re able to do. If you pressure and get on them and start playing like they’re any other volleyball team they can make mistakes, they can make errors. We had to get over the mental side of what happened in Game 1 and I was real proud of the way they responded.”

Oxford beat Albertville in three games in the final match of the night.

FAITH CHRISTIAN 3, WELLBORN 2: The Lady Lions really had their serve going as their top players scored 14 aces in the five-set win, 25-18, 23-25, 25-16, 23-25, 15-13.

Abby Kazanjian had six aces and nine digs. Nicole Frechette had five aces, 16 kills and three digs. Erin Cheek had three aces, 25 assists and five digs. Zana Christjohn had 11 kills.

The Lady Lions are now 12-4, 8-2 against in-county opponents (with the two losses coming to Pleasant Valley), which could score them points in the seeding meeting. They have a chance for another in-county win Tuesday in a big area match at Donoho.

“We will take whatever (they’re) offered,” Faith coach Justin Kisor said. “We’re just blessed to be in the spot we are in.”

Alisa St. John (2) and Blakely Malsy strike similar poses as they play the ball back across the net to Alexandria. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

(25-21, 25-23, 25-17)

KILLS – PV: Mikayla Kendrick 12, Blakely Malsy 1, Savannah Williams 4, Anna Bryant 5, Alisa St. John 11. Alexandria: Taylor Spradley 6, Aubrey Pope 9, Kendal Bumpus 2, China Lane 2.
ASSISTS – PV: Savannah Williams 13, Anna Bryant 14, Riley Haynes 4, Madison Bentley 1, Alexandria: Gracie Muncher 18.
DIGS – PV: Mikayla Kendrick 4, Blakely Malsy 6, Savannah Williams 6, Anna Bryant 17, Riley Haynes 2, Madison Bentley 15, Maggie Hedgepeth 1, Alisa St. John 11. Alexandria: Taylor Spradley 3, Aubrey Pope 6, China Lane 1, Mattie Wade 5, Kinsley Gregoria 5, Kaitlin Harvey 5, Gracie Muncher 4.
BLOCKS – PV: Mikayla Kendrick 6, Blakely Malsy 6, Alisa St. John 2Alexandria: Taylor Spradley 1, Kendal Bumpus 4, China Lane 1.
ACES – PV: Anna Bryant 2, Madison Bentley 2, Alisa St. John 3 Alexandria: Aubrey Pope 1, Kinsley Gregoria 3, Kaitlin Harvey 1.

(25-20, 20-25, 15-10)

KILLS – Jacksonville: Elizabeth Poe 12, Aniyah Jefferson 6, Michelle Wyckoff 3, Kayla Broom 4, Brianna Stone 5. Oxford: Alex Gomez 9, Makayla Kidd 4, Taniya McDonald 1, Shania Vincent 5, Emma Connell 1, Aumaria Lindsey 2.
ASSISTS – Oxford: Emma Connell 18.
DIGS – Oxford: Alex Hammond 15, Alex Gomez 6, Makayla Kidd 14, Taniya McDonald 2, Shania Vincent 5, Emma Connell 8, Deinnah Isaac 13, Kaylee Sanders 2, Aumaria Lindsey 5.
BLOCKS – Jacksonville: Elizabeth Poe 2, Aniyah Jefferson 2, Kayla Broom 4, Brianna Stone 1. Oxford: Shania Vincent 2.
ACES – Jacksonville: Elizabeth Poe 1, Aniyah Jefferson 1, Michelle Wyckoff 2, Brooke Murphy 1. Oxford: Alex Hammond 3, Emma Connell 1, Deinnah Isaac 1.

(13-25, 25-23, 15-7)

KILLS – Jacksonville: Elizabeth Poe 8, Aniyah Jefferson 5, Michelle Wyckoff 5, Kayla Broom 6, Brianna Stone 2, Brooke Murphy 2.
BLOCKS – Jacksonville: Elizabeth Poe 2, Aniyah Jefferson 2, Kayla Broom 6.
ACES – Jacksonville: Elizabeth Poe 1, Aniyah Jefferson 2, Michelle Wyckoff 1, Brooke Murphy 2

(25-17, 16-25, 15-11)

KILLS – Oxford: Alex Gomez 5, Makayla Kidd 3, Taniya McDonald 4, Shania Vincent 3, Emma Connell 2, Aumaria Lindsey 3.
ASSISTS – Oxford: Alex Gomez 1, Emma Connell 17, Deinnah Isaac 1.
DIGS – Oxford: Alex Hammond 9, Alex Gomez 9, Makayla Kidd 11, Taniya McDonald 3, Shania Vincent 3, Emma Connell 2, Deinnah Isaac 2, Kaylee Sanders 1, Aumaria Lindsey 2.
BLOCKS – Oxford: Shania Vincent 1, Emma Connell 1, Aumaria Lindsey 2.
ACES – Oxford: Makayla Kidd 6.

Jacksonville’s defense tries to deny Oxford’s Shania Vincent at the net Monday night. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

To see a gallery of photos from the PV-Alexandria and Jacksonville-Oxford matches, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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