E.A. Sports Today

Faith in focus

Faith Christian wins Donoho Classic, knocking off No. 1 Athens Bible in semifinals, No. 5 Meek in finals; PV ‘pulls together’ to win Etowah Tournament

Nicole Frechette (2) leads the cheers as Faith Christian celebrates winning the first set of its Donoho Classic title match with Meek. The Lady Lions closed it out in the next set.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The key to the success of this year’s Faith Christian volleyball team is going to be its mental toughness and focus.

Since it’s still a work in progress, Lady Lions coach Justin Kisor was just a little concerned approaching the Donoho Classic finals his team might have spent it all getting there. They had just avenged a three-set pool-play loss to top-ranked Athens Bible in three sets in the semifinals and he wondered if they still had anything in the tank.

The Lady Lions had plenty in the tank and beat Meek 25-18, 25-19 for the Gold Bracket title.

Donoho won the Silver Bracket championship, beating Westminster in the final 25-20, 25-15.

As the top-ranked team in the classification, Athens Bible was the tournament favorite. The Lady Trojans were particularly bright on Faith’s radar. They knocked the Lady Lions out of this tournament a year ago and later in the second round of the regionals.

Faith won the first set in their pool match, but the Lady Trojans forced a tiebreaker and then won it 15-13. It took all the Lady Lions had in the semifinals rematch, rallying from losing the first set to tying the match 27-25 and then winning the tiebreaker 15-10, leaving one to wonder how much they had left in the tank.

“That was a big worry,” Kisor said. “The mental toughness is what we’re looking at. Athens beat us early in the day and we came back and beat them. I thought as the day went on we got progressively better and stronger at where it matters. Skill-wise we’re really good, but mentally is what’s going to win us games, so that was big for us.”

The Lady Lions got strong games across the board. Nicole Frechette had 47 kills, 15 digs and four aces. Zana Christjohn had 37 kills, Sydnee Johnson had 28 kills and seven blocks. Erin Cheek set it all up with 112 assists and seven aces. Abby Kazanjian played all day with a sinus infection, but was determined to get through it and had 50 digs and 12 aces.

In the championship match, Zana Christjohn had 12 kills, Kazanjian had 14 digs and Cheek had 18 assists.

Meek tied the first set 15-all on a ball that clipped the top of the net and just dropped over to the other side. But Faith scored eight of the next 10 points to take control. They jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the second set and never led by fewer than three points after that.

“Coming into today after our big win over Sacred Heart I knew we could do it for sure, that we were mentally stable,” Kazanjian said. “Even after the loss earlier this morning I knew we could persevere through it.”

“This tournament has been our most mental tough,” added Frechette. “We’ve really shown a lot of growth in this tournament. It really showed us we can play through adversity, play through it well and win.”

Meek reached the final by beating Wellborn 25-16, 25-9. Donoho reached the Silver finals by rallying to beat Piedmont in three sets, 23-25, 25-19, 15-7, also avenging a three-set pool-play loss; Westminster got there by beating Spring Garden in straight sets, 25-21, 25-21.

“We started flat (in the semifinals) and were really fortunate to beat Piedmont, but we came out a lot stronger against Westminster,” Donoho coach Jamie Clendenin said. “I felt like we really came out strong and finished when we needed to finish most.”

The tournament typically is a preview of the Class 1A North regional in Huntsville later this fall. This year’s field included five teams in this week’s 1A rankings, so a good showing here can do wonders for a team’s confidence going forward.

“Coach has been talking to us about this since back in the summer and this really shows us,” Cheek said. “Last year we realized we were really good, but we weren’t that mentally and this just kind of shows us we’re there. I think we really are mentally tough now. It’s really a reflection on how I think we’re going to do at state.”

PV sweeps Etowah title

ATTALLA – Pleasant Valley swept through four opponents to win the Etowah Tournament.

The Lady Raiders (14-6) beat Appalachian (25-14, 25-19), Gaston (25-12, 25-17), Glencoe (25-17, 25-15) and West End (25-22, 25-19).

Savannah Williams recorded 27 kills, 15 digs and five aces, while Karmyn Sparks had 20 kills and eight blocks. Rylee Hayne had 52 assists and Maggie Hedgepeth had 36 digs.

“Blakely (Malsy) had to leave after our second game so everyone else really had to step it up for the play-offs; I’m proud of the way they pulled together,” PV coach Dana Bryant said. “Maggie Hedgepath did an exceptional job covering the court and Savannah Williams really came through and made the big plays.”

Malsy had 16 kills, seven digs, had just one attack error and missed only one of her serves in the matches she played.


GOLD BRACKET CHAMPIONS: FAITH CHRISTIAN (5-1 – def. Ohatchee 25-12, 25-15; def. Spring Garden 25-12, 25-9; lost to Athens Bible 20-25, 24-18, 15-13, 13-15; def. Westminster 25-19, 25-21; def. Athens Bible 18-25, 27-25, 15-10; def. Meek 25-18, 25-19).

KILLS – Abby Kazanjian 5, Emily Sills 11, Erin Cheek 10, Nicole Frichette 47, S.J. Christjohn 15, Sydnee Johnson 28, Zana Christjohn 37.

ASSISTS – Abby Kazanjian 3, Emily Sills 2, Erin Cheek 112, Nicole Frechette 2.

ACES – Abby Kazanjian 12, Emily Sills 1, Eric Cheek 7, Nicol Frechette 4, S.J. Christjohn 4, S.K. McVeigh 4.

DIGS – Abby Kazanjian 50, Emily Sills 6, Erin Cheek 12, Nicole Frechette 15, S.J. Christjohn 6, S.K. McVeigh 5, Sydnee Johnson 1, Zana Christjohn 3.

BLOCKS – Emily Sills 2, Erin Cheek 3, S.J. Christjohn 2, Sydnee Johnson 7, Zana Christjohn 3.

SILVER BRACKET CHAMPIONS: DONOHO (4-2 – lost to Piedmont 25-22, 13-25, 16-14; def. Holy Spirit 25-11, 25-8; lost to Meek, 25-23, 25-23; def. Meek 25-22, 25-22; def. Piedmont 23-25, 25-19, 15-7; def. Westminster 25-20, 25-15)

KILLS – Mya Keel 11, Maggie Miller 2, Leyden Orth 7, Kate Porteous 2, Lily Grace Draper 31, Maggie Wakefield 15, Mercy Mangum 13, Mary Marshall 20, Jenna Stremmel 2.

ASSISTS – Maggie Miller 75, Kate Porteous 4, Maggie Wakefield 2, Mya Keel 2, Kaitlyn Kim 2, Leyden Orth 1, Victoria Tutor 1, Jenna Stremmel 4.

ACES – Maggie Miller 7, Kate Porteous 3, Mya Keel 11, Kaitlyn Kim 4, Maggie Wakefield 3, Lily Grace Draper 7, Mercy Mangum 1, Jenna Stremmel 1.

DIGS – Mya Keel 30, Kaitlyn Kim 17, Maggie Miller 24, Victoria Tutor 6, Jenna Stremmel 62, Kate Porteous 2, Lily Grace Draper 17, Maggie Wakefield 10, Mercy Mangum 2, Mary Marshall Perry 2.

BLOCKS – Mary Marshall Perry 4, Maggie Wakefield 5, Leyden Orth 1.



KILLS – Savannah Williams 27, Blakely Malsy 16, Karmyn Sparks 20, Leah Patterson 9, Madison Borders 1, Mattie Glass 7, Rylee Hayne 2, Maggie Hedgepath 1.

ASSISTS – Mattie Glass 2, Rylee Hayne 52.

ACES – Savannah Williams 5, Blakely Malsy 2, Leah Patterson 3, Rylee Hayne 1, Erin Rose 1, Maggie Hedgepath 2, Allie Bryant 1, Abbi Steele 1.

DIGS – Savannah Williams 15, Blakely Malsy 7, Karmyn Sparks 4, Leah Patterson 5, Mattie Glass 4, Rylee Hayne 8, Maggie Hedgepath 36, Allie Bryant 7, Abbi Steele 8.

BLOCKS – Savannah Williams 4, Blakely Malsy 1, Karmyn Sparks 8, Leah Patterson 4, Madison Borders 2, Rylee Hayne 2.

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