E.A. Sports Today

Faith falls short

Lady Lions taken into extra points in fifth-set tiebreaker, but Athens Bible comes up big at the end to win the Class 1A state semifinals match

Athens Bible’s Izzy Todd (L) and Sarah Woodard team up to block Faith’s Nicole Frechette for the point that gave the Lady Trojans their first lead in the decisive fifth set Wednesday night. (Photo by Tony Bedford)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

BIRMINGHAM – The Faith Christian volleyball team came as close as humanly possible to making it to the state title match, but in the end Athens Bible made the biggest plays in the biggest time.

The Lady Lions fell in an emotional five-set match in the Class 1A state semifinals at the Birmingham Crossplex Wednesday.

They won the first and third sets (25-17, 25-11) and were feeling pretty good about their situation although they expected a close match throughout. Athens Bible won the second (25-21) and fourth (25-19) sets and then won the tiebreaker 19-17 despite Faith holding a late lead and serving match point four times.

“It’s definitely crushing,” Faith senior hitter Nicole Frechette said after emerging from a somber team suite. “We were up on them three or four times we could’ve won and then the one time they get up on us they score and they win, and that is very difficult. That was like three or four points of hope we had.”

The Lady Lions (33-12) served for the win at 14-13, 15-14, 16-15, 17-16.

Athens Bible (45-10) drew even in the fifth set when Faith’s Erin Cheek just missed getting a ball over the net on a return. The Lady Trojans then took an 18-17 lead when Izzy Todd and Sarah Woodard double-teamed a block on Frechette and then Mackenzie Davis found an open spot in the middle of the floor for the match winner. It was the only time they led in the fifth set.

“They were putting up great blocks all night,” Frechette said. “We should have finished the game before that point. We were up three or four times before that. We should have been able to finish.”

Athens Bible will play Pleasant Home for the Class 1A state title Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the adjacent Bill Harris Arena. Pleasant Home, with 6-foot-5 Florida State basketball commit River Baldwin on the front line, will be playing for a state title in a girls sport for the first time in its school history.

Faith reached the semifinals by sweeping past Westminster-Oak Mountain earlier in the day 3-0. (See story elsewhere on the website.)

“They played the bigger points,” Faith Christian coach Justin Kisor said of his team’s semifinal opponent. “We played well, played about as well as we could at times. We did everything we were supposed to do.

“This is going to sound so cliché-ish, but if we could just win a point while we were up one … I knew if (Athens Bible) were ever to get back up by one we would start feeling the pressure. But we didn’t. What beat us wasn’t the pressure. What beat us was they made two great shots.”

In the final high school matches of their careers, Frechette had 18 kills, Cheek had 39 assists and Abby Kazanjian had 24 digs. Sydnee Johnson had 10 blocks to go with seven kills.

In the Lady Lions’ six matches of the regionals and state tournament, Frechette scored 107 kills, Cheek recorded 237 assists and Kazanjian had 102 digs. Zana Christjohn had 60 kills; Johnson had 42 kills and 23 blocks; and S.J. Christjohn had 32 blocks. Johnson and S.J. Christjohn both are back next year.

ATHENS BIBLE 3, FAITH CHRISTIAN 2
(17-25, 25-21, 11-25, 25-19, 19-19)
KILLS – Abby Kazanjian 1, Erin Cheek 5, Nicole Frechette 18, Zana Christjohn 9, Sydnee Johnson 7, Emily Sills 3, S.J. Christjohn 5.
ASSISTS – Abby Kazanjian 1, Erin Cheek 39, Nicole Frechette 2.
ACES – Erin Cheek 2, Nicole Frechette 2, Emily Sills 2, S.J. Christjohn 1.
DIGS – Abby Kazanjian 24, Erin Cheek 10, Nicole Frechette 3, Zana Christjohn 5, Emily Sills 5, S.J. Christjohn 6, S.K. McVeigh 6.
BLOCKS – Erin Cheek 1, Sydney Johnson 10, Emily Sills 2, S.J. Christjohn 7.

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP PAIRINGS
Thursday, Bill Harris Arena
CLASS 2A – Winston County (33-14) vs. Addison (53-10), 8 a.m.
CLASS 7A – McGill-Toolen (47-5) vs. Bob Jones (37-10), 9:45 a.m.
CLASS 5A – St. James (37-10) vs. Jasper (69-5), 11:30 a.m.
CLASS 6A – Spanish Fort (64-5) vs. Hazel Green (60-11), 1: 15 p.m.
CLASS 3A – Montgomery Academy (37-9) vs. Carbon Hill (65-6), 3 p.m.
CLASS 4A – Providence Christian (48-8) vs. Bayside Academy (36-18), 4:45 p.m.
CLASS 1A – Pleasant Home (31-5) vs. Athens Bible (45-10), 6:30 p.m.

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