E.A. Sports Today

Energy shortage

Pleasant Valley just doesn’t have the energy it displayed during regular season, falls in Elite 8

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

BIRMINGHAM — The energy that carried Pleasant Valley to 52 wins and the Calhoun County Tournament title during the regular season just wasn’t there when the Lady Raiders needed it most.

PV was making its first Elite 8 appearance since 2011 Wednesday, but fell in the state quarterfinals to Providence Christian 3-0 at the Birmingham Crossplex.

The game scores were 25-20, 25-18, 25-21.

The Lady Raiders ended their season 52-9 and lost their final three matches.

From head coach Dana Bryant to the players, all said the team’s energy was missing. Bryant attributed some of it to the inexperience of this stage.

“We just couldn’t get up and go; we couldn’t get it going on the court,” Bryant said. “I guess being here for the first time we were a little wide-eyed, a bit of a deer-in-the-headlights look. We just never did get going on the court. We never got the fires lit out there.”

Bryant said there were no indications earlier in the day the team might have trouble getting started.

“I think it was more nerves than anything,” Bryant said.

“We just weren’t playing our game today,” hitter Mikayla Kendrick said.

The trouble was the Lady Raiders fell behind and could never get the tying points in the first two sets or the go-ahead points in the third when they did tie it despite some of Bryant’s best efforts during timeouts.

It looked like they were in big trouble early when they fell behind 11-3 and Kendrick turned an ankle. She came out for several points, but Blakely Malsy kept them in it at the net and they got to 16-15 and 20-19.

They got behind 11-4 in the second and drew to 14-13. They had it tied at 17 in the third after being down 12-8.

The Lady Eagles (45-8) called time at each critical juncture and did what it took to maintain the lead.

“It could have gone either way and we just happened to make some plays down the stretch in all three games,” Providence Christian coach Bill Oldfield said. “They’ve been proving that all year long; they never quit on a match. We took a lot of time outs to try to right the ship toward the end of these sets. We were able to call the right play at the right time. To their credit they executed down the stretch just a little bit better and that was probably the only difference.”

Kendrick returned to the match during the first set and wound up with a team-high 10 kills for the Lady Raiders.

“I was not going to let that effect me, I was not going to let that hold me back,” she said. “I was so scared that I had gotten myself hurt and I wasn’t going to be able to play the rest of the game. They asked me are you going to sit out and I was like no I refuse to stay out. I just fought through it. I ignored it.”

Malsy kept the Lady Raiders in it during Kendrick’s absence and finished with seven kills and six blocks. Anna Bryant had seven kills, 10 digs and 13 assists in her last high school match before signing with Jacksonville State.

“We had a good chance to win,” Bryant said. “We could’ve won easily. We just didn’t play like we wanted to. Our energy just wasn’t up at all.”

(25-20, 25-18, 25-21)
(Pleasant Valley statistics)

KILLS – Mikayla Kendrick 10, Blakely Malsy 7, Anna Bryant 7, Karmyn Sparks 1, Alisa St. John 9.
ASSISTS – Savannah Williams 12, Anna Bryant 13, Maggie Hedgepath 1.
ACES – Blakely Malsy 1, Anna Bryant 1.
DIGS – Mikayla Kendrick 4, Blakely Malsy 1, Savannah Williams 1, Anna Bryant 10, Rylee Haynes 1, Kamrym Sparks 1, Madison Bentley 17, Maggie Hedgepath 4, Alisa St. John 6.
BLOCKS – Mikayla Kendrick 4, Blakely Malsy 6, Savannah Williams 2, Anna Bryant 1.

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