E.A. Sports Today

White Plains winner

Lady Wildcats sweep through final regular-season tournament for first title of the season

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EDITORS NOTE: Technical difficulties prevented this story from being posted Saturday when the match was played. Enjoy it free here today.

By East Alabama Sports Today

LINEVILLE – Candi Cronan could see her White Plains volleyball team’s season steadily building to this moment. The players were seeing it, too.

The Lady Wildcats have been inching closer all year to winning a tournament. Last week they finished second in Wellborn’s Slam Fest and Saturday — in their final tournament of the regular season – they went 6-0 to win the Clay Central’s Lady Vols Varsity Tournament.

They won all six matches in straight sets and beat Handley – for the third time in the tournament – in the title match 25-19, 25-18. They also beat Handley 25-13, 25-16 and 25-19, 25-18; Clay Central 25-17, 25-9; Randolph County 25-15, 25-9; and Woodland 25-13, 25-15.

“The bigger part is them learning their role and (recognizing) their strengths and playing to that,” said Cronan, named the Lady Wildcats’ coach this summer. “The first few matches of the season there was a lot of newness and jelling together as a team with a new coach. They kind of plugging into that and gone with it and played their game.

“It’s really been confidence and the girls realizing when they play to their potential and strength nothing is impossible.”

Tournament organizers didn’t recognize a most valuable player, but it easily could have to Landry Bussey, who had 37 kills and 10 blocks in the tournament. Rian Chandler had 19 kills in the tournament, Lucy Medders had 35 assists, Isabella Pinto had 12 digs and Natalie Pinto seven assists.

“My team played good today,” Bussey said. “We were able to manage the fundamentals pretty well, so I got a lot of sets. And getting to really hit the ball is a lot of fun.”

“She was very big, a leader, today,” Cronan said. “She saw the holes on the floor and used that to our advantage to place the ball.”

White Plains’ next tournament is the Calhoun County Tournament Saturday in Jacksonville, followed by the road to the state championship. But before that the Lady Wildcats (14-6) have an important single match Thursday night against Cherokee County.

If they win it, they’re the No. 2 seed in their area tournament. If they lose, they have a coin flip to determine who’ll be the higher seed in the opening round match with Cherokee County.

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