E.A. Sports Today

Thursday volleyball

Pleasant Valley’s confidence level going into the County Tournament high after beating Alexandria, Jacksonville this week

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By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Pleasant Valley has come close to winning the Calhoun County Volleyball Tournament the last two years, but the Lady Raiders’ confidence is at a much higher level this year after sweeping through a “critical” week highlighted by wins over the second- and third-seeded teams in the tournament.

The Lady Raiders, the No. 1 seed in the tournament that starts Saturday at Jacksonville High School – and current fan favorite to win it – scored a 25-18, 25-23 Senior Night win over third-seeded Jacksonville Thursday, two days after taking down No. 2 Alexandria in four sets.

They’re 34-3 overall now, 17-1 against Calhoun County opponents. They have won 17 in a row against in-county foes since losing to Jacksonville in five sets in their season opener.

“I think as much as anything it was important for their confidence,” PV coach Dana Bryant said of the week. “The confidence level is higher now than it was before this week. I feel like because of the wins we have this season their mentality and confidence level will be much better than it was the last two years.”

The two sets with Jacksonville were tight throughout. The Lady Raiders pulled away from a 13-13 tie in the first set with four of the next five points and stayed out front. Jacksonville held an 18-15 lead midway through the second set, but PV rallied to tie it and no more than a point separated them down the stretch.

Mikayla Kendrick’s kill earned the Lady Raiders a 23-23 tie and they won the next two points to clinch the match.

“We’re excited, full of life,” Kendrick said. “We’re just ready to see what we can do.”

“It definitely boosted our confidence,” Anna Bryant said. “It was a good week for us.”

Jacksonville coach David Clark, meanwhile, was encouraged in the loss because of the way his team bounced back from Tuesday’s five-set loss to Oxford – the No. 4 seed in the county tournament – the last time out.

“I thought our response tonight was good,” he said. “Even in the two games we lost, the volleyball was better.

“If we can play this type volleyball I like us going into the tournament, but if we fall back to what we’ve done for about a week on and off we’ll have a hard time whoever comes in front of us. It’s about us. We can’t be worried about who’s on the other side because our play’s not consistently enough at a high level to worry about who’s over there. We’ve got to take care of that first.”

Before taking on PV, the Golden Eagles survived a scare from Weaver. The Lady Bearcats rallied from an 18-10 deficit to win the first set (26-24) before Jacksonville took the second set (25-18) and the tiebreaker (15-11).

It was the first time Weaver had taken a set from Jacksonville in the five years Casey Maples has been the Lady Bearcats’ coach. She played her high school volleyball for Clark.

The second set was tight, too, until the Golden Eagles broke away with an 11-1 run. They opened a 7-2 lead in the tiebreaker, but Weaver wouldn’t go away. The Lady Bearcats put together a 5-0 run behind Mariah Thompson to tie it, but at 9-9 Jacksonville went on a 4-1 and put it away.

“That was definitely a confidence builder,” Maples said. “A lot of times a program that is not established has to get some of those wins to get established and … our team to know we can do it.

“We got down and did a good job of battling out of the little hole we created. Jacksonville finished and we didn’t. That comes with experience, but it’s good to be in those positions.”

(25-10, 25-13)

KILLS – Weaver: Rayne Beck 2, Brianna Ware 3; PV: Mikayla Kendrick 7, Blakely Malsy 3, Savannah Williams 2, Anna Bryant 7, Karmyn Sparks 1, Alisa St. John 6.

ASSISTS – PV: Savannah Williams 10, Anna Bryant 10.

ACES – Weaver: Kylee Jordan 1; PV: Savannah Williams 2, Anna Bryant 4, Madison Bentley 3, Alisa St. John 2.

DIGS – PV: Mikayla Kendrick 4, Blakely Malsy 2, Savannah Williams 3, Anna Bryant 3, Madison Bentley 5, Maggie Hedgepath 4, Cailyn Steele 1, Alisa St. John 5.

BLOCKS – PV: Blakely Malsy 1, Alisa St. John 1.

(24-26, 25-18, 15-11)

KILLS – Jacksonville: Elizabeth Poe 9, Aniyah Jefferson 7, Michelle Wyckoff 11, Kayla Broom 5, Brianna Stone 8, Brooke Murphy 1; Weaver: Rayne Beck 4, Mariah Thompson 6, McKenna Flynn 3, Skylar Watson 1, Abby Gaines 3, Brianna Ware 2.

ACES – Jacksonville: Elizabeth Poe 2, Aniyah Jefferson 1, Michelle Wyckoff 2; Weaver: Rayne Beck 1, Mariah Thompson 1, Amira Carter 1.

BLOCKS – Jacksonville: Elizabeth Poe 1, Aniyah Jefferson 5, Michelle Wyckoff 1, Kayla Broom 5, Brianna Stone 2.

(25-18, 25-23)

KILLS – Jacksonville: Elizabeth Poe 4, Aniyah Jefferson 3, Michelle Wyckoff 6, Kayla Broom 2, Brianna Stone 7, Brooke Murphy 1; PV: Mikayla Kendrick 9, Blakely Malsy 2, Savannah Williams 2, Anna Bryant 4, Rylee Haynes 1, Alisa St. John 8.

ASSISTS – PV: Savannah Williams 8, Anna Bryant 11.

ACES – Jacksonville: Michelle Wyckoff 1, Brooke Murphy 1, Rachel Underhill 1, Mallory Bell 1. PV: Savannah Williams 1, Anna Bryant 2, Madison Bentley 1, Alisa St. John 1.

DIGS – PV: Mikayla Kendrick 4, Blakely Malsy 1, Savannah Williams 3, Anna Bryant 9, Rylee Haynes 1, Madison Bentley 14, Maggie Hedgepath 2, Alisa St. John 2.

BLOCKS – Jacksonville: Elizabeth Poe 1, Aniyah Jefferson 1, Michelle Wyckoff 1, Brianna Stone 1; PV: Mikayla Kendrick 2, Blakely Malsy 1, Alisa St. John 1.

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