E.A. Sports Today

County final set

Faith Christian, Alexandria make it to county volleyball tournament finals after winning five-set semifinals

Alexandria players rush the floor after beating Pleasant Valley to earn a spot in the Calhoun County Volleyball Tournament finals. On the cover, Faith Christian players celebrate their semifinal win over top-seeded Oxford.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The Calhoun County Volleyball Tournament title match is set and it will be a matchup between a team making its first appearance in the county final and one that still feels the sting of losing in last year’s final.

Upstart 1A Faith Christian, the No. 4 seed, and second-seeded defending 5A state champion Alexandria will meet Monday at 6 p.m. on the Lady Cubs’ floor for the county crown after winning five-set semifinals Saturday over teams with deep pedigrees.

Faith stunned top-seeded 6A Oxford 25-13, 22-25, 25-21, 16-25, 15-13, and Alexandria took down a Pleasant Valley team that outlasted them in last year’s classic of a final, 25-20, 11-25, 25-19, 17-25, 15-8.

“Honestly, I can’t believe it right now; I’m sure it’s going to sink in eventually,” Faith senior hitter Nicole Frechette said moments after the match. “It’s been a dream for years and years and that we’re finally actually doing it is just surreal.

“I think everyone believed we had a shot, but I don’t think anyone surely thought, hey, this little 1A school that’s never really accomplished something that big is going to be in the county championship. It’s kind of like I think we had something to prove coming in here, I really do, to ourselves as well as everybody else.”

The Lady Lions (23-8) showed they meant business right from the start, sweeping area rival Donoho in their first match of the tournament and then opening an 11-2 lead in the first set against Oxford. In fact, they led in every set of the semifinal match and could have avoided the drama if they could have closed better.

Even in the two sets they lost, they jumped out to leads of 8-0 and 8-1, and went out 6-0 in the tiebreaker.

But Oxford fought its way back. The Lady Jackets, who hadn’t lost to an in-county opponent all season, got within a point four times in the second set, then finally got on top of it with five straight points. They really came to life in the fourth, largely behind Lakijah Brown and Shania Vincent, erasing a five-point deficit with 11 straight points that was part of a larger 16-2 close. They even took leads of 11-10 and 12-11 in the fifth after falling behind early.

“We were expecting it to be back and forth,” said Frechette, whose 17th kill of the match at 14-13 in the fifth set after a spirited rally set the stage for the victory. “I think if it didn’t go back and forth like that it wouldn’t have been the game it should have been.”

“You can’t give a good team five, six points every set, especially the fifth game when you’re only play a short game to 15, you can’t do that,” Oxford coach Wendy McKibbin said. “They played really well, very scrappy, they’ve got a very good team. … That’s the thing about volleyball: It doesn’t matter if you’re 1A or 7A, you’ve got to play together as a team and you’ve got to compete. They competed and had the mindset of nothing’s going to hit the floor. That’s what they did and they’re playing on Monday.”

Faith’s Erin Cheek had been laid up all week with a stomach virus, but there was no way she was going to miss Saturday. The only day she went to school last week was Thursday, and that’s so she could play in that night’s matches with Alexandria and Southside. She had 12 aces and 41 assists against Oxford, 14 aces and 66 assists in the Lady Lions’ two victories.

“You can’t stop a winner, that’s what she is,” Faith coach Justin Kisor said. “I told you earlier this week if she could walk she’s going to play. When she goes back there (to serve) my confidence is pretty high.”

Alexandria (23-11), meanwhile, is going back to the county finals after bouncing the team that beat it in what many agree was one of the best county tournament finals ever. Both teams played at such a high level that night at Jacksonville State it took more than 15 points to decide the fifth-set tiebreaker. They played an intense best-of-three match that went the distance Tuesday night.

The teams swapped the first four sets as they labored through some inconsistency. In the tiebreaker, Alexandria jumped out to a 6-1 lead, PV rallied to get within 9-7 and then the Lady Cubs scored five straight points to set up the victory.

Now they’re going back to the final with a chance to win their first county title since 2001 (and fifth ever) on their own floor. This will be their 17th all-time appearance in the finals.

“They really wanted to be in that game,” Alexandria coach Whitney Welch said. “That match still bothers me from last year and I know it bothers some of our girls. I think about it a lot. It was such a great match and somebody had to win it and we were on the opposite end. I’m happy for these girls we’re going back. I’m excited about it. I hope they are, too.”

“It is really a good feeling to go back,” hitter Kendal Bumpus said.


First-round games
No. 12 Piedmont 3, No. 13 Ohatchee 2 (13-25, 25-11, 24-26, 25-13, 15-5)
No. 11 White Plains 3, No. 14 JCA 9 (25-17, 25-14, 25-11)
No. 10 Jacksonville 3, No. 15 Anniston 0 (25-5, 25-5, 25-2)
Second-round games
No. 9 Weaver 3, No. 8 Saks 1 (20-25, 25-17, 25-20, 28-26)
No. 5 Donoho 3, Piedmont 1 (25-21, 25-18, 19-25, 25-18)
No. 6 Sacred Heart 3, White Plains 0 (25-16, 26-24, 25-15)
Jacksonville 3, No. 7 Wellborn 1 (25-13, 23-25, 25-10, 25-16)
No. 1 Oxford 3, Weaver 0 (25-13, 25-10, 25-15)
No. 4 Faith Christian 3, Donoho 0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-11)
No. 3 Pleasant Valley 3, Sacred Heart 0 (25-18, 25-21, 25-8)
No. 2 Alexandria 3, Jacksonville 1 (22-25, 25-20, 25-17, 25-13)
Faith Christian 3, Oxford 2 (25-13, 22-25, 25-21, 16-25, 15-13)
Alexandria 3, Pleasant Valley 2 (25-20, 11-25, 25-19, 17-25, 15-8)
Championship Match
at Alexandria
Monday, 6 p.m.

Faith Christian vs. Alexandria

(25-13, 22-25, 25-21, 16-25, 15-13)
KILLS – Faith Christian: Erin Cheek 3, Nicole Frechette 17, Zana Christjohn 10, Sydnee Johnson 10, Emily Sills 5, S.J. Christjohn 3. Oxford: Tanyia McDonald 9, Lakijah Brown 21, Kiki Woods 1, Shania Vincent 14, Emma Connell 4, Aumaria Lindsey 5.
ASSISTS – Faith Christian: Erin Cheek 41. Oxford: Deinnah Isaac 1, Alanah Zimmerman 2, Tanyia McDonald 1, Emma Connell 45.
ACES – Faith Christian: Erin Cheek 12, Nicole Frechette 2, Emily Sills 1, S.J. Christjohn 2. Oxford: Deinnah Isaac 1, Emma Connell 1.
DIGS – Faith Christian: Abby Kazanjian 21, Erin Cheek 8, Nicole Frechette 8, Zana Christjohn 7, Emily Sills 1, S.J. Christjohn 3. Oxford: Deinnah Isaac 22, Alanah Zimmerman 5, Tanyia McDonald 19, Lakijah Brown 6, Shania Vincent 2, Emma Connell 13, Brittany Davis 6, Aametria Wilson 14, Aumaria Lindsey 1.
BLOCKS – Faith Christian: S.J. Christjohn 1. Oxford: Shania Vincent 3, Aumaria Lindsey 1.
RECORDS – Faith Christian 23-8, Oxford 28-16.

(25-20, 11-25, 25-19, 17-25, 15-8)
KILLS – Alexandria: Kendal Bumpus 16, Mattie Wade 1, Kayleigh Steen 4, Kinsley Gregoria 1, Lanie Dreyer 4, Madison Chastain 9, Anna Johnson 1, Maysen Schur 6, Lexie Weber 4. Pleasant Valley: Savannah Williams 16, Blakely Malsy 8, Karmyn Sparks 8, Leah Patterson 1, Madison Borders 1, Mattie Glass 3, Rylee Haynes 4.
ASSISTS – Alexandria: Mattie Wade 2, Kayleigh Steen 18, Kinsley Gregoria 2, Anna Johnson 8. Pleasant Valley: Rylee Haynes 16, Allie Bryant 1.
ACES – Alexandria: Mattie Wade 2, Kayleigh Steen 2, Lanie Dreyer 1, Ashley Parker. Pleasant Valley: Savannah Williams 2, Blakely Malsy 3, Leah Patterson 2, Rylee Haynes 2, Allie Bryant 2.
DIGS – Alexandria: Kendal Bumpus 9, Mattie Wade 4, Kayleigh Steen 6, Kaitlin Harvey 6, Kinsley Gregoria 15, Lanie Dreyer 3, Madison Chastain 4, Anna Johnson 4, Maysen Schur 1, Ashley Parker 14, Jordan Beason 1, Lexie Weber 1. Pleasant Valley: Savannah Williams 27, Blakely Malsy 17, Karmyn Sparks 1, Leah Patterson 4, Rylee Haynes 8, Maggie Hedgepath 5, Allie Bryant 31, Abbi Steele 3.
BLOCKS – Alexandria: Kendal Bumpus 2, Lanie Dreyer 1, Maysen Schur 5. Pleasant Valley: Savannah Williams 4, Blakely Malsy 4, Karmyn Sparks 6, Leah Patterson 1, Rylee Haynes 2.
RECORDS – Alexandria 23-11, Pleasant Valley 30-9.

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