E.A. Sports Today

Night of history

Faith Christian wins its first area volleyball title since 2003 on a night Donoho has its 33-year postseason streak come to an end

Faith’s Abby Kazanjian (17) reaches back to power a ball over the net in Monday’s area championship match against Sacred Heart. (All photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

The year was 1984 and it was the year Wes Craven’s horror film “A Nightmare on Elm Street” made its way onto the American film scene. It was the year Apple came out with its McIntosh personal computer. It was also the last time Donoho volleyball did not make it out of the area playoffs.

And then there was Monday night in the Class 1A Area 10 tournament.

See a gallery of photo from Monday night’s matches at www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

The nightmare this time was Donoho’s and it came on Ronnaki Road as the Lady Falcons fell to Sacred Heart 3-0 in the semifinals to end their four-decade postseason run.

“I was a part of that at Donoho and it is sad to see it end,” said Sacred Heart coach Peyton Van Ekris, a former Donoho player, “but on the other hand I am on the other side now and it was a big win for our program. To be able to defeat a great Donoho program was special for our kids. They showed up ready to play.”

It was an historic night for another reason. Top-seeded host Faith Christian won its first area title in more than a decade when it swept past Sacred Heart in the championship match 3-0 (25-12, 25-15, 25-22). Both teams will advance to the Class 1A North regionals later this week in Huntsville.

“That was our goal,” Lady Lions coach Justin Kisor said. “I told my girls our goal was not to host, our goal was to win it. They came out and from the first ball of Sacred Heart, the first serve, they had that fire and that drive that we’re going to achieve that goal at all costs. It was all them.”

Tournament MVP Nicole Frechette sparked a four-point run on her serve to help the Lady Lions (31-9) open an 11-6 lead in the first set. Kills by Sydnee Johnson and Frechette fueled an overall 16-4 run to win the first set.

Erin Cheek served out the last six points of the second set to break open a close set and finished it off with an ace.

The final set saw Faith jump out to a 6-0 lead and hold off a valiant comeback by the Lady Cardinals that tied the set at 16, 18 and 22. Cheek served out the final three points and Faith had its first area championship since 2003.

Johnson had six kills and five digs for Faith. Cheek had 16 assists. Abby Kazanjian added 10 digs and Emily Sills had eight. Frechette had eight kills. The Lady Cardinals were led by Ayanna Foster’s eight kills. Sophia Allen had 11 assists, Jumoke Sanusi 16 digs and Angel Nguyen 11 digs.

“Nicole Frechette won the MVP but everybody played (well),” Kisor said. “You need people to step up and play and play as a team if you’re going to accomplish things in big games. When you play Sacred Heart and teams that are really good, the team has to step up you have to make plays you’re capable of making. You just have to believe you can play.”

Faith and Sacred Heart will play their regional openers Thursday at 2 p.m. Faith plays Area 13 runner-up Tharptown (12-15), while Sacred Heart plays champion Phillips (35-8).

“I don’t know much about them,” Kisor said. “You get in a situation like this where you go to a regional or super regional you’ve got to come out and play your game. I think if we play our game I think we can play and beat anyone in the state.”

The Sacred Heart players celebrate their victory over Donoho that qualified them for the Class 1A North regional tournament.

FAITH 3, JCA 0 (25-10, 25-8, 25-12): The Lady Lions rode a punishing game at the nets.

They finished the first set on a 10-3 run and jumped out 11-2 in the second set. It was a little tougher in the third set as the Thunder chopped an early deficit to 14-11, but Faith scored the last nine points to take the match and move on to the area finals.

Frechette, Zana Christjohn and Johnson had seven kills apiece to lead the Lady Lions at the net. Cheek had 20 assists. Johnson, Frechette and Sarah Kate McVeigh had five aces apiece.

“We were really focused out there and our play at the net was strong,” Kisor said. “Usually, the longer the point goes the better chance we have.”

The Lady Lions have lost only one set within the area this season.

SACRED HEART 3, DONOHO 0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-23): The Lady Cardinals used some great serving and outstanding play at the net to battle their way past the Lady Falcons.

The first set saw Donoho jump out to an early lead, but the Lady Cardinals reeled off seven straight points behind the serves of Jacque Beyerle to go ahead 11-6 and were never in trouble after that.

The second set see-sawed back and forth until the Lady Cardinals broke a 19-all tie with six straight points on the serve of Deborah Greene. She served three aces in the run.

The Lady Falcons fought to stay alive in the final set and had a 23-22 lead, but the Lady Cardinals picked off three straight points on the serve of Jayla Woods to get the win and advance.

Ayanna Foster had seven kills to lead Sacred Heart. Jayla Woods and Sophia Allen had nine assists apiece.

First-year Donoho coach Destinee Briskey gathers her players to talk strategy during the area semifinals.

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