E.A. Sports Today

PV gets its crown

After falling in the finals each of the previous two years, Pleasant Valley scores its elusive County Volleyball title

Pleasant Valley’s Mikayla Kendrick drops one of her kills over the net in the Calhoun County Tournament championship match. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — The third time was indeed the charm for the Pleasant Valley volleyball team.

The Lady Raiders, turned back in five sets each of the last two finals, won the Calhoun County Volleyball Tournament Championship Monday with a 3-2 win over Alexandria at Jacksonville State.

PV, the tournament’s top seed, put away the decisive fifth set 18-16 on Blakely Malsy’s ace after tournament MVP Anna Bryant broke the 40th tie of the match with a signature winner into the right corner.

It was the Lady Raiders’ first county title since 2003 and 12th all-time. Senior setter Anna Bryant was named tournament most valuable player.

“I am not just super excited, I’m super thankful … to finally be able to make it,” PV coach Dana Bryant said. “Three years, two of them going home second place, we finally made it. We finally pushed through. We couldn’t make it easy, could we? It wasn’t easy. It took everything we had to win tonight.”

Related material: Anna Bryant’s courageous comeback complete with MVP honors; see a gallery of photos from the match at www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

Second-seeded Alexandria (25-6), in the finals for the first time since 2011, won the first set 26-24 and the third 25-21 and was serving with a 21-20 lead in the fourth. PV (37-3) won the second set 25-19 and the fourth 25-21.

The Lady Raiders are now 20-1 against in-county competition this season, winning 20 straight since losing to Jacksonville in their first match of the season. They’ve lost only five sets in those 21 county matches.

“It was a good match,” Lady Cubs coach Whitney Welch said. “I thought we had our chances in Game 4, I thought we should’ve took the match in Game 4, but at the end of the day, we played them three times, they beat us three times; at some point you’ve got to tip your hat to them and move on.

“They just match up really well with us. We had our opportunities tonight and they just were able to finish.“

Eighteen months removed from the fight of her life, Anna Bryant won MVP honors after scoring 20 kills, a .306 hitting percentage, 19 assists and 24 digs, many at critical points of the match. She had 51 kills, 46 assists and 40 digs in the Lady Raiders’ three tournament victories.

“I’ll tell you, Anna Bryant is really good; she’s all over the place,” Welch said. “When she’s on front row, they just scored more than we did. She gave us fits.”

Alexandria’s Taylor Spradley was the outstanding offensive player in the tournament; she had 27 kills in the championship match, but PV was able to make hay when the rotation took her off the floor. PV libero Madison Bentley was the outstanding defensive player; she had 22 digs in the title match.

The Lady Raiders lost to Oxford and Jacksonville in the finals the last two years. After the first set Monday it looked as if they would be denied again. Before this current run, they hadn’t been to the county finals since beating Alexandria in 2003.

“This was such a relief,” PV hitter Mikayla Kendrick said. “We worked for this so hard. We kept telling ourselves that we were going to refuse to lose. It’s just the best feeling we could have. We just had to keep pushing; we knew we had it in us.”

PLEASANT VALLEY 3, ALEXANDRIA 2
(24-26, 25-19, 21-25, 25-21, 18-16)

KILLS – Alexandria: Taylor Spradley 27, Aubrey Pope 20, Kendal Bumpus 7, China Lane 5, Mattie Wade 1, Gracie Muncher 1; PV: Mikayla Kendrick 15, Blakely Malsy 4, Savannah Williams 2, Anna Bryant 20, Alisa St. John 13.
ASSISTS – Alexandria: Aubrey Pope 1, Gracie Muncher 51; PV: Blakely Malsy 1, Savannah Williams 21, Anna Bryant 19, Rylee Haynes 1, Madison Bentley 1, Alisa St. John 1.
DIGS – Alexandria: Taylor Spradley 5, Aubrey Pope 16, Kendal Bumpus 1, China Lane 3, Mattie Wade 15, Kinsley Gregoria 15, Kaitlin Harvey 6, Gracie Muncher 7; PV: Mikayla Kendrick 8, Blakely Malsy 2, Savannah Williams 14, Anna Bryant 24, Madison Bentley 22, Maggie Hedgepath 11, Alisa St. John 18.
BLOCKS – Alexandria: Taylor Spradley 6, Kendal Bumpus 2, China Lane 3; PV: Mikayla Kendrick 4, Blakely Malsy 4, Savannah Williams 2, Anna Bryant 3, Karmyn Sparks 2, Alisa St. John 4.
ACES – Alexandria: Aubrey Pope 2, Kendal Bumpus 1, Mattie Wade 1, Kaitlin Harvey 1, Gracie Muncher 1; PV: Savannah Williams 2, Madison Bentley 3, Alisa St. John 2.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Most Valuable Player:
Anna Bryant, Pleasant Valley
Outstanding Offensive Player: Taylor Spradley, Alexandria
Outstanding Defensive Player: Madison Bentley, Pleasant Valley

All-Tournament Team: Rayne Beck, Weaver; LaMonica Noel, Saks; Elizabeth Poe, Jacksonville; Alex Gomez, Oxford; Sydnee Johnson, Faith Christian; Shania Vincent, Oxford; Erin Cheek, Faith Christian; Kinsley Gregoria, Alexandria; Savannah Williams, Pleasant Valley; Gracie Muncher, Alexandria; Alisa St. John, Pleasant Valley; Aubrey Pope, Alexandria; Mikayla Kendrick, Pleasant Valley.

Alexandria’s Taylor Spradley (15) goes high over the Pleasant Valley defense for one of her 27 kills in the match. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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