E.A. Sports Today

Back in action

Senior Spradley returns to floor from ankle injury, wins MVP honors in one match as Alexandria wins another area title

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

To be honest, Taylor Spradley thought her career was over when she heard a distinctive “pop” from around her ankle after landing awkwardly during a match last week at Oxford.

In that instance things didn’t look good for the Alexandria volleyball team’s dream of returning to the state finals to complete some unfinished business, either.

But those anxious moments turned to great relief Tuesday night as the senior hitter returned to the floor for one match and played like the MVP she was named in leading the Lady Cubs to a 3-0 win over Boaz for the Class 5A Area 13 tournament title.

“(Last) Monday I honestly thought my season was over,” said Spradley, her left ankle buried in a full five-gallon bucket of ice that she dragged along the floor as she walked. “Nothing bad like that had ever happened to me before, so it freaked me out and I was panicking. I was devastated because I thought it was over.

“Taking the week off and coming back and working hard during practices I think I did pretty good. To me, getting this (MVP) just shows everybody believes in me. It’s an honor to win it and I’m proud of it. I’m just thankful for it. Just thankful.”

Spradley turned her ankle with her team behind in the fourth set of the match with Oxford it eventually rallied to win. The “pop” she heard was her ankle brace breaking, but she did sustain a high ankle sprain.

It was such a blow the Lady Cubs pulled out of their scheduled weekend appearance in Guntersville to get everyone well for the all-important area tournament.

She started doing light work on Friday, but it was agreed she wouldn’t play in the tournament semifinal against Douglas that could have ended the Lady Cubs’ season unless it was absolutely necessary.

With Spradley watching confidently, the Lady Cubs got through that match easily 25-11, 25-14, 25-16 with contributions across the board. She still didn’t know if she was going to play in the final until right before the opening serve, but the Lady Cubs brought her back and she was her usual dominant self on the front line, drilling a match-high 14 kills in the 25-17, 25-9, 25-19 clincher.

“She played really well,” Lady Cubs coach Whitney Welch said. “We’re blessed to have her back and she’s blessed to not have a season-ending injury. With her having that and it almost being over, to me, she came out and played like it was the first time she ever played, or maybe like it’s my last time. She just came out with a different vibe because she had it taken away from her and she worked so hard for it.”

Spradley was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Aubrey Pope, the outstanding offensive player of the tournament, China Lane, Kendal Bumpus and Gracie Muncher. Pope had 10 kills in the title match and 15 in the tournament. Bumpus had 12 kills in the Douglas match and 20 in the tournament. Lane had 15 kills in the two matches and Muncher had 42 total assists.

The Lady Cubs (38-8), last year’s Class 5A runner-up, now have a couple days before heading to Huntsville where they’ll face Area 10 runner-up Cleburne County (5-20) in their North regional opener Friday at 10:15 a.m.

Even though they’ll be heavily favored, they’re not looking past anyone.

“This is win or go home now so it’s important to come in and compete on a high level,” Welch said. “I think they’re hungry to want to climb back and hopefully get back into that (state championship) game if they can and try to finish. I think that’s what they’re after and hopefully we can keep working hard and they’ll get there.”

(25-17, 25-9, 25-19)
KILLS – Alexandria: Taylor Spradley 14, Aubrey Pope 10, Kendal Bumpus 8, China Lane 7, Mattie Wade 2, Gracie Muncher 2; Boaz: Josie Perigo 1, Rene Shipman 9, Mattie Heaton 4, Jayden Bobo 2, Camille Ford 3, Gabi Diamond 1.
ASSISTS – Alexandria: Mattie Wade 1, Gracie Muncher 36; Boaz: Josie Perigo 14, Maleah Collins 3.
DIGS – Alexandria: Taylor Spradley 2, Aubrey Pope 9, Kendal Bumpus 6, China Lane 2, Mattie Wade 5, Kinsley Gregoria 19, Kaitlin Harvey 12, Gracie Muncher 5; Boaz: Josie Perigo 6, Rene Shipman 15, Mattie Heaton 3, Madelynn Goggans 7, Jayden Bobo 2, Emilie Minor 5, Gabi Diamond 1.
BLOCKS – Alexandria: Taylor Spradley 1, Aubrey Pope 1, Kendal Bumpus 2, China Lane 1; Boaz: Camille Ford 1.
ACES – Alexandria: Aubrey Pope 3, Kinsley Gregoria 1; Boaz: Rene Shipman 2, Mattie Heaton 1, Maleah Collins 1, Gabi Diamond 1.

(25-11, 25-14, 25-16)
(Alexandria statistics)

KILLS – Aubrey Pope 5, Kendal Bumpus 12, China Lane 8, Mattie Wade 7, Gracie Muncher 1, Kayleigh Steen 1, Madison Chastain 1, Kyleigh Rhodes 1.
ASSISTS – Mattie Wade 2, Kinsley Gregoria 1, Gracie Muncher 6, Kayleigh Steen 18.
DIGS – Aubrey Pope 5, Kendal Bumpus 3, China Lane 3, Mattie Wade 5, Kinsley Gregoria 11, Kaitlin Harvey 4, Gracie Muncher 2, Kayleigh Steen 5, Kameron Simpson 1, Madison Chastain 1, Kyleigh Rhodes 3.
BLOCKS – Kendal Bumpus 3, China Lane 2.
ACES – Aubrey Pope 2, Kendal Bumpus 1, Kameron Simpson 1, Anna Johnson 1.

On the cover: Alexandria’s Taylor Spradley (R) looks back towards the bench for instruction before assuming her position at the net in her first match back from an ankle injury.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login