E.A. Sports Today

Nifty 50

Pleasant Valley scores 50th win of season in match that brings Lady Raiders 12th straight area title; Piedmont back in regionals

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Every sport has a number that defines an elite status. For a World Series baseball team it might be 100 wins. For an athlete it’s 1,000 points or 1,000 yards. For a high school volleyball team it’s 50 wins.

Pleasant Valley joined that rarified group Tuesday when it reached the 50-win plateau for the first time since 2001 and it just so happened to come when they beat Piedmont 3-0 for their 12th straight area tournament championship.

The Lady Raiders (50-6) won the Class 3A Area 10 title match 25-9, 25-15, 25-10. They will play Area 13 runner-up Brindlee Mountain in their North regional opener Friday at 11:30 p.m. in the Von Braun Center in Huntsville.


Of all the teams whose records were listed in Tuesday’s statewide tournament scores only two others — Carbon Hill (64-9) and Lawrence County (53-4) — had 50 wins. PV and Carbon Hill could meet in the regional final Saturday at 1 p.m.

“This is huge,” PV coach Dana Bryant said. “Last year at area tournament we took our 40th win (for the first time in her tenure) and that was a benchmark, but this year they took their 50th, which speaks volumes for this team.

“This is exciting. I was excited. I was just as excited as the girls were because I’ve never had a team since I’ve been coaching to win 50 games. I’ve been excited about today all day.”

The team just had to come through in their only match of the day, which, of course, they did with little trouble. They haven’t lost a set to an area opponent in at least nine years.

PV senior hitter Mikayla Kendrick was named most valuable player. She had 11 kills in the title match, seven aces jump-serving for the first time and a .500 hitting percentage. Since the second day of the Blalock Tournament two weeks ago she has recorded 123 kills and a way better than average hitting percentage.

“She’s played very aggressively at the net,” Bryant said. “She went through a little lull in the middle of the season where she was playing more careful, more reserved, and I told her we needed her to be in beast-mode, Now she’s coming back and being that player that we need her to be.”

“It hit home when she told me I needed to try to play full games, that I needed to be a full-game hitter, and I’ve been striving for that ever since,” Kendrick said.

The last time PV hit the 50-win mark they went 52-10 in 2001 and reached the Class 2A Final Four. If they run the table through the regionals and finals, the Lady Raiders will finish with the third winningest season in program history. The school record for wins is 60, set in their 1997 state championship season.

Despite losing in the tournament finals, Piedmont (19-26) earned its first trip to the regionals since 2012 when it rallied to beat Glencoe for the third time this season 17-25, 25-11, 25-20, 25-14.

The Lady Bulldogs will play Area 13 champion Geraldine (44-10) in their regional opener Friday at 11:30 a.m.

“It’s been such a long time for us and this bunch really deserves it,” Piedmont coach Grace Strott said. “They’ve worked their tails off this year … wanting what they came up short of last year. I wanted it for them more than anything. I knew they could do it. I knew it all along.”

By winning, the Lady Bulldogs also exorcised some demons from last year’s area tournament on this floor when they were five points away from a sweep and lost to the Lady Jackets in five.

This one didn’t start well for the Lady Bulldogs. They fell behind 7-0 out of the gate, but rallied to tie it before Glencoe (16-19) scored the final seven points of the set to take a 1-0 match lead.

Casting the loss aside, they opened the second set with a 13-0 run behind the big serves of Carsyn Morrow. Continuing the trend of big runs, they zipped off eight straight points to take control of the third set and had a late 11-1 run to put away the fourth.

Morrow had 12 aces and seven kills in the match. Sydney Prater had 10 kills.

“I actually was worried when we tied it more than when we were losing,” Strott said. “I know this group – they’ll work and they’ll tie it up then sit back on their heels and let it go … But my girls, when they lose, they come back better.”

Mikayla Kendrick, Pleasant Valley (MVP)
Pleasant Valley – Alisa St. John, Madi Bentley, Anna Bryant, Mikayla Kendrick, Savannah Williams, Maggie Hedgepath.
Piedmont – Sydney Prater, Carsyn Morrow, Samirra Braswell, Lulu Jackson.
Glencoe – Lauren Cole, Jenny Williams, Evan Burns.

(25-9, 25-15, 25-10)
KILLS – Piedmont: Sydney Prater 2, Samirra Braswell 1, Katelyn Ridley 2, Tylin Wilson 1; Pleasant Valley: Mikayla Kendrick 11, Blakely Malsy 4, Savannah Williams 6, Anna Bryant 6, Alisa St. John 5.
ACES – Pleasant Valley: Mikayla Kendrick 7, Blakely Malsy 3, Savannah Williams 1, Anna Bryant 1, Alisa St. John 4.
ASSISTS – Piedmont: Mackenzie Tolbert 2, Samirra Braswell 2, Katelyn Ridley 1; Pleasant Valley: Savannah Williams 11, Anna Bryant 16.
DIGS – Piedmont: Lulu Jackson 1; Pleasant Valley: Mikayla Kendrick 1, Blakely Malsy 2, Savannah Williams 4, Anna Bryant 5, Madison Bentley 6, Maggie Hedgepath 7, Alisa St. John 9.
BLOCKS – Piedmont: Lulu Jackson 1; Pleasant Valley: Mikayla Kendrick 2, Blakely Malsy 4, Savannah Williams 1.

(17-25, 25-11, 25-20, 25-14)
KILLS – Piedmont: Sydney Prater 10, Rebecca Smart 5, Mackenzie Tolbert 1, Samirra Braswell 6, Zoee Holcomb 2, Lulu Jackson 7, Carsyn Morrow 7, Tylin Wilson 6; Glencoe: Lauren Cole 2, Caroline Phillips 1, Jenny Williams 11, Kaylie Davis 2, Evan Burns 7, Aubrey Gray 4, Lexi Gray 3, Skyler Thompson 2.
ACES – Piedmont: Katelyn Lawler 4, Carsyn Morrow 12; Glencoe: Lauren Cole 3, Caroline Phillips 2, Jenny Williams 1.
ASSISTS – Piedmont: Rebecca Smart 2, Mackenzie Tolbert 10, Samirra Braswell 9, Katelyn Ridley 8.
DIGS – Piedmont: Sydney Prater 1, Samirra Braswell 1, Zoee Holcomb 2, Katelyn Lawler 1, Carsyn Morrow 2, Katelyn Ridley 2; Glencoe: Lauren Cole 1, Caroline Phillips 1, Evan Burns 1.
BLOCKS – Piedmont: Samirra Braswell 2, Lulu Jackson 1, Carsyn Morrow 1; Glencoe: Jenny Williams 2, Evan Burns 2, Aubrey Gray 1.

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