E.A. Sports Today

Lady Cubs wear crown

Alexandria wins county volleyball tournament title that escaped it a year ago, first since 2001

Tournament MVP Kendal Bumpus winds up to deliver one of her 23 kills that helped Alexandria win the Calhoun County Volleyball Tournament. (All photos by Tony Bedford)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Every time you turned around the last couple years it seemed the Alexandria volleyball team was doing something historic.

Last year, they won their first state championship in 22 years. They made history again Monday night, beating Faith Christian in four sets to win their first Calhoun County Tournament title in 17 years.

Playing in their own gym but not necessarily the overwhelming crowd favorite, the second-seeded Lady Cubs won 25-19, 25-21, 23-25, 25-13.

It was their fifth county crown all time (1977, 1980, 1999, 2001, 2018); they were in their 17th final. Fourth-seeded senior-laden Faith Christian was playing in the county final for the first time.

Lady Cubs coach Whitney Welch was a sophomore on the team the last time Alexandria won the county, beating Pleasant Valley 15-10, 4-15, 15-11. The oldest of her players on this year’s team were mere months old back then.

“It’s been a long time, so I’m excited,” Welch said. “I’m happy for Alexandria. We won a state championship before we won a County, which is weird in its own right, but it’s good to get that monkey off our back. I’m proud for the girls. They deserve it.”

“It’s just cool to keep making all this history at the school,” said senior hitter Kendal Bumpus, who was barely eight months old when the Lady Cubs won the county in 2001. “It’s just really cool to keep winning stuff and being remembered as the team who did big things.”

Bumpus was the most valuable player of the tournament. She had 23 kills and only three hitting errors in the championship match and 54 kills in their three tournament victories.

Whenever the Lady Cubs (24-11) needed a point or needed to stop a Lady Lions run they went to Bumpus and she usually delivered — often in a loud way. She scored the first two kills of the match, four of Alexandria’s first six points, and the last two kills of the opening set.

“She swung it as well as I’ve ever seen her swing,” Welch said.

“I just knew I had to come out here and show up for my team,” Bumpus said. “At the beginning of the game when I scored those points, I kind of felt like I was on tonight.”

“We couldn’t block her all night,” Faith coach Justin Kisor said.

Kinsley Gregoria, not quite four months old in 2001, was named the tournament’s outstanding defensive player. She had 22 digs in the finals – 55 in three tournament matches – and her enthusiasm was infectious.

“That’s the cheerleader in her and she sparks us a lot with that,” Welch said.

The Lady Cubs got big games throughout the roster. Madison Chastain had 13 kills, Mattie Wade had 15 digs, Kaitlin Harvey had 13 digs, Anna Johnson had 21 assists and Kayleigh Steen had 17 assists.

Faith’s Nicole Frechette was named the best offensive player. She had 12 kills for the Lady Lions (23-9), who wanted to play well Monday to show their run Saturday against Donoho and top-seeded Oxford was no one-hit wonder.

Sydnee Johnson added eight kills, Erin Cheek had 21 assists and Abby Kazanjian had 17 digs.

Kisor admitted the nerves of the stage were evident in his team early, but the Lady Lions didn’t get overrun until the fourth set.

They fell behind 6-1 in the first set and later 22-14, but they closed within 22-19 before Alexandria scored the last three points to close it out.

They rallied from a 4-0 deficit in the second set to take their first lead of the night 6-5, but Bumpus blasted a big kill to tie the set and touch off a 5-1 Alexandria run. The Lady Cubs pushed the lead to 20-13, but Faith rallied to get within 22-20 before the Lady Cubs took control.

The Lady Lions played their best game in the third set and never trailed. The Lady Cubs mounted a modest rally and got it to 22-20 and 24-23 before Frechette nailed the set winner.

It was all Alexandria in the fourth set. The Lady Cubs jumped out 7-2 and extended the lead to 12-3, 16-4 and 20-6.

“I thought we played well,” Kisor said. “We needed some breaks and we never got them. I’m not taking anything away from them – they beat us because they were better than us, that’s the bottom line – but in a game like that you’ve got to get some breaks and we didn’t get that.

“But this was huge for our program. I think it’s the first time we made the final in any sport in the county, so it’s huge. I know our girls are disappointed they didn’t win, but somebody’s gotta win, somebody’s gotta lose.”

Kinsley Gregoria (R), the outstanding defensive player of the tournament, keeps the ball alive in Alexandria’s county title match against Faith Christian.

COUNTY TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
ALEXANDRIA 3, FAITH CHRISTIAN 1

(25-19, 25-21, 23-25, 25-13)
KILLS – Faith Christian: Abby Kazanjian 1, Erin Cheek 3, Nicole Frechette 12, Zana Christjohn 4, Sydnee Johnson 8, Emily Sills 1, S.J. Christjohn 4. Alexandria: Kendal Bumpus 23, Mattie Wade 2, Kayleigh Steen 1, Kinsley Gregoria 1, Lanie Dreyer 4, Madison Wallace 2, Madison Chastain 13, Anna Johnson, Maysen Schur 2, Lexie Weber 2.
ASSISTS – Faith Christian: Abby Kazanjian 3, Erin Cheek 22, Sydnee Johnson 1. Alexandria: Kayleigh Steen 17, Kaitlin Harvey 1, Kinsley Gregoria 2, Lanie Dreyer 1, Anna Johnson 21, Ashley Parker 1.
ACES – Faith Christian: Abby Kazanjian 1, Nicole Frechette 1, S.K. McVeigh 1. Alexandria: Mattie Wade 3, Kayleigh Steen 1, Madison Wallace 1, Anna Johnson 1, Ashley Parker 2.
DIGS – Faith Christian: Abby Kazanjian 17, Erin Cheek 5, Nicole Frechette 2, Zana Christjohn 2, Emily Sills 1, S.J. Christjohn 1, S.K. McVeigh 2. Alexandria: Kendal Bumpus 3, Mattie Wade 15, Kayleigh Steen 6, Kaitlin Harvey 13, Kinsley Gregoria 22, Lanie Dreyer 1, Madison Wallace 1, Madison Chastain 3, Anna Johnson 5, Kameron Simpson 2, Maysen Schur 1, Ashley Parker 9.
BLOCKS – Faith Christian: Sydnee Johnson 3, S.J. Christjohn 4. Alexandria: Kendal Bumpus 1, Madison Chastain 1, Maysen Schur 1, Lexie Weber 2.
RECORDS – Alexandria 24-11. Faith Christian 23-9.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Most Valuable Player –
Kendal Bumpus, Alexandria
Outstanding Offensive Player – Nicole Frechette, Faith Christian
Outstanding Defensive Player – Kinsley Gregoria, Alexandria
Mattie Wade, Alexandria
Madison Chastain, Alexandria
Kaitlin Harvey, Alexandria
Sydnee Johnson, Faith Christian
Erin Cheek, Faith Christian
Abby Kazanjian, Faith Christian
Savannah Williams, Pleasant Valley
Blakely Malsy, Pleasant Valley
Shania Vincent, Oxford
Lakijah Brown, Oxford
Kayla Broom, Jacksonville
Ayanna Foster, Sacred Heart
Mary Marshall Perry, Donoho
McKenna Flynn, Weaver

CALHOUN COUNTY VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONS
(Since 2000)
2000 — Jacksonville def. Pleasant Valley, 15-12, 15-9
2001 — Alexandria def. Pleasant Valley, 15-10, 4-15, 15-11
2002 — Saks def. Donoho, 7-15, 17-15, 15-8
2003 — Pleasant Valley def. Alexandria, 19-25, 25-16, 15-13
2004 — Oxford def. Saks, 24-26, 25-12, 25-22
2005 — Jacksonville def. Oxford, 25-23, 25-15
2006 — Jacksonville def. Alexandria, 25-20, 26-24, 22-25, 25-16
2007 — Oxford def. Jacksonville, 15-25, 25-19, 25-18, 22-25, 15-11
2008 — Jacksonville def. Oxford, 25-8, 25-18, 25-21
2009 — Jacksonville def. Ohatchee, 25-21, 25-14, 25-21
2010 — Jacksonville def. Oxford, 26-24, 25-10, 25-21
2011 — Jacksonville def. Alexandria, 25-20, 25-17, 25-12
2012 — Donoho def. Jacksonville, 25-22, 25-14, 25-10
2013 — Jacksonville def. Donoho, 20-25, 25-23, 25-19, 26-24
2014 — Jacksonville def. Oxford, 25-19, 25-20, 25-24
2015 — Oxford def. Pleasant Valley, 25-21, 15-25, 25-23, 22-25, 15-11
2016 — Jacksonville def. Pleasant Valley, 22-25, 25-23, 22-25, 26-24, 15-13
2017 — Pleasant Valley def. Alexandria, 24-26, 25-19, 21-25, 25-21, 18-16
2018 — Alexandria def. Faith Christian, 25-19, 25-21, 23-25, 25-13

Faith Christian’s Nicole Frechette (2) was the most outstanding offensive player in the Calhoun County Tournament.

Faith Christian’s Abby Kazanjian sends the ball back across the net to Alexandria.

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