E.A. Sports Today

Turning the corner

Jacksonville sweeps White Plains to take upper hand in area volleyball race; Faith, Sacred Heart, Alexandria win twice

Kayla Broom (7) had a huge match for Jacksonville, scoring 18 kills, seven blocks and three aces. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

Thursday’s matches
Albertville 3, Oxford 0 (25-10, 25-18, 25-19)
Alexandria 3, Etowah 0 (25-12, 25-13, 25-10)
Alexandria 2, Wellborn 0 (25-15, 25-10)
Faith Christian 2, Cedar Bluff 0 (25-9, 25-11)
Faith Christian 2, Southside 0 (25-23, 25-23)
Glencoe 2, Coosa Christian 0 (25-20, 25-11)
Glencoe 3, Piedmont 0 (25-8, 25-21, 27-25)
Jacksonville 3, White Plains 0 (25-14, 25-8, 25-16)
Sacred Heart 2, Ohatchee 1 (21-25, 25-11, 15-12)
Sacred Heart 2, Ranburne 0 (25-10, 25-22)
Saks 3, Randolph County 0 (25-14, 25-10, 26-24)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

This hasn’t exactly been a season up to Jacksonville’s usual volleyball standards – at least not in the win-loss column – but the Lady Golden Eagles showed signs of turning the corner Thursday night.

The Lady Eagles, 5-12 at the time of the county tournament seeding meeting, made quick work of a big Class 4A Area 10 threat in advance of a defining area week, beating White Plains in less than an hour, 25-14, 25-8, 25-16.

Jacksonville volleyball coach David Clark watched his team play its best match of the season in a three-set sweep of White Plains Thursday. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

Jacksonville coach David Clark said it was probably the best his team had played all year and its third win since his third adjustment of what he’s called the “ongoing experiment” of the season. White Plains coach Ben Carroll, meanwhile, said too many distractions ahead of the match affected his team’s focus and performance on the floor.

The win completed a season series sweep of White Plains for the Lady Golden Eagles (11-15), giving them the head-to-head tiebreaker in the event the teams tied for the lead. Jacksonville completes its area schedule next week with three matches in four days; White Plains will be playing for the No. 2 area seed in its remaining area match against Hokes Bluff.

“I knew this year was going to be a challenge,” Clark said. “Some games got away from us early because of youth and we kind of got in a groove where we waited for bad things to happen and when they happened we were just here it is again.

“This was big. The funny thing is even though the record isn’t that great, all of our goals and our team goals are still in place for this year. We’ve not eliminated ourselves from anything we want to accomplish this year. We’ve just taken an up and down, winding road to get to this point.”

The Lady Golden Eagles were as sharp as they’ve been all season. They only time they trailed was 1-0 in the third set. They pulled away in the first set with a 9-2 run and then scored the final four points of the set. They scored 11 straight points in the middle of the second set that turned into a 19-2 run. The third set they pulled away three points at a time.

“The biggest thing I pulled away from tonight is the way my kids played; I thought we played extremely well tonight,” Clark said. “That’s what we’re capable of. That’s our high end and I think even a little bit more at times, but the question is can we do it consistently and that’s been the whole season.

“I think they’re starting to really kind of believe in each other and the people around them and I don’t feel like we really had that all year. Hopefully we can move forward from this point and not take a step back. We’ve been approaching this at times and slipped back so I’m hoping we can maintain where we are.”

Kayla Broom had a huge match for Jacksonville. She had 18 kills, seven blocks and three aces. Brenna Stone and Shelby Salmon had seven kills apiece.

Broom played so well because of the encouragement of her teammates “to play like me today.” She had eight kills and three blocks in the third set.

“They were talking to me on the way over like we’re going to win this game,” she said. “They were so encouraging, like we’re going to do this, and I was like yeah, we are. That’s probably why we came up with a big W because we were came up here talking positive with each other and with good energy.”

White Plains was looking to make a big move on their first area title in 20 years and first since 2005. Beating the Lady Golden Eagles would have evened the season series and left the race to be decided by next week’s matches.

Instead, the Lady Wildcats looked out of sorts and intimidated by the situation.

“We were beat before we ever stepped on the court tonight,” Carroll said. “They were focused on all the wrong things. We have got to focus on playing our best game. We just had too many distractions.

“I told them tonight’s game was important but it’s not the end. It’s a seeding game. We still have a tournament to play. Every loss has got to be a lesson learned and the lesson they need to learn from this one is we’ve got to find a way to be focused on us when we play and not worry about the other side. We’ve got to find a way to be mentally prepared.”

For a gallery of photos from the match, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

(25-14, 25-8, 25-16)
KILLS – Jacksonville: Kayla Broom 18, Brenna Stone 7, Bailey VanCleave 1, Aly Meagher 4, Shelby Salmon 7. White Plains: Gracie Morgan 4, Katelynn Barnett 1, Kassidy Ledbetter 2, Natalie Pinto 1.
ASSISTS – Jacksonville: Molly Wilson 13, Bailey VanCleave 15. White Plains: Reece Roberts 6, Natalie Pinto 3.
ACES – Jacksonville: Kayla Broom 3, Brenna Stone 2, Shelby Salmon 2. White Plains: Morgan Huckaby 1, Peyton Helms 1, Katelynn Barnett 1.
DIGS – Jacksonville: Brenna Stone 3, Bailey VanCleave 4, Bailee Pritchett 4. White Plains: Morgan Huckaby 1, Allison Arenth 1, Peyton Helms 5, Gracie Morgan 3, Reece Roberts 2, Katelynn Barnett 2, Kassidy Ledbetter 1, Emma Ponder 1, Natalie Pinto 1, Jocelyn Harris 3.
BLOCKS – Jacksonville: Kayla Broom 7, Aly Meagher 2. White Plains: Kassidy Ledbetter 1, Jocelyn Harris 1.

Lady Lions get payback

Nicole Frechette had 20 kills, Erin Cheek delivered 37 assists and eight aces, and Abby Kazanjian had 12 digs as Faith Christian defeated Cedar Bluff and Southside in straight sets.

The Lady Lions (21-6) beat Cedar Bluff 25-9, 25-11 and then avenged an earlier loss to Southside 25-23, 25-23.

Erin Cheek 1, Nicole Frechette 20, Sydnee Johnson 6, S.J. Christjohn 6, Zana Christjohn 8, Abby Kazanjian 1, Emily Sills 5, S.K. McVeigh 1.
ASSISTS – Erin Cheek 37, Sydnee Johnson 1, Abby Kazanjian 2, Emily Sills 2.
DIGS – Erin Cheek 2, Nicole Frechette 4, S.J. Christjohn 1, Zana Christjohn 4, Abby Kazanjian 12, Emily Sills 2, S.K. McVeigh 3.
ACES – Erin Cheek 8, Nicole Frechette 2, S.J. Christjohn 2, S.K. McVeigh 1.
BLOCKS – Sydnee Johnson 3, S.J. Christjohn 2, Zana Christjohn 1.

Sacred Heart wins twice

Ayanna Foster had 23 kills, Sophia Allen had 59 assists and Debbie Greene 10 aces as Sacred Heart beat Ranburne (25-10, 25-22) and Ohatchee (21-25, 25-11, 15-12).

Foster had 14 kills, Allen 33 assists and Debbie Greene nine aces in the Ohatchee match for the Lady Cardinals (24-13).

Ayanna Foster 23, Sophia Allen 5, Mary Kate Middlebrook 15, Debbie Greene 14, Angel Nguyen 6, Alyssa Bell 2, Lizzie Morris 1.
ASSISTS – Ayanna Foster 1, Sophia Allen 59, Angel Nguyen 4.
ACES – Ayanna Foster 4, Sophia Allen 2, Mary Kate Middlebrook 5, Debbie Greene 10, Angel Nguyen 2, Seanna Johnson 2.
DIGS – Ayanna Foster 10, Sophia Allen 6, Mary Kate Middlebrook 10, Debbie Greene 8, Angel Nguyen 16, Alyssa Bell 3, Seanna Johnson 10.
BLOCKS – Ayanna Foster 2, Sophia Allen 3, Debbie Greene 5, Angel Nguyen 1, Alyssa Bell 1.

Lady Cubs get closer

Kendal Bumpus had 14 kills and Madison Wallace had eight aces as Alexandria won a pair of matches and moved closer to playing for the top seed in its area.

The Lady Cubs beat Etowah 25-12, 25-13, 25-10 in an area match and Wellborn 25-15, 25-10.

They got contributions throughout the lineup. Eleven players scored kills in the Etowah match, led by Bumpus’ nine. Wallace had eight aces against Wellborn. Kayleigh Steen had 20 assists in the two matches and Anna Johnson had 18.

The Lady Cubs can wrap up their area at home Tuesday against Southside.

Kendal Bumpus 14, Mattie Wade 6, Kayleigh Steen 1, Lanie Dreyer 3, Madison Wallace 8, Madison Chastain 4, Anne Johnson 2, Kameron Simpson 3, Maysen Schur 6, Kyleigh Rhodes 2, Lexie Weber 2.
ASSISTS – Kayleigh Steen 20, Kinsley Gregoria 3, Anne Johnson 18.
ACES – Mattie Wade 5, Kayleigh Steen 3, Kaitlin Harvey 2, Kinsley Gregoria 1, Madison Wallace 8, Ashley Parker 2.
DIGS – Kendal Bumpus 2, Mattie Wade 11, Kayleigh Steen 2, Kaitlin Harvey 8, Kinsley Gregoria 10, Lanie Dreyer 1, Madison Wallace 1, Madison Chastain 2, Anne Johnson 6, Kameron Simpson 2, Ashley Parker 7, Lexie Weber 1.
BLOCKS – Kendal Bumpus 2, Lanie Dreyer 1, Madison Wallace 1.

White Plains’ Morgan Huckaby (R) sends the ball back over the net against Jacksonville. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

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