E.A. Sports Today

On to the finals

Top-seeded Alexandria, No. 2 Jacksonville to battle for county volleyball title Monday at JSU

Jacksonville’s Kayla Broom (R) drives a ball back across the net against Donoho in Saturday’s county tournament semifinals. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

Saturday’s matches
At Alexandria H.S.
No. 12 Piedmont 3, No. 13 Wellborn 2 (23-25, 25-17, 25-23, 22-25, 15-9)
No. 11 Saks 3, No. 14 Jacksonville Christian 0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-22)
No. 9 Faith Christian 3, No. 8 Pleasant Valley 0 (25-23, 26-24, 25-18)
No. 5 Ohatchee 3, Piedmont 1 (25-11, 21-25, 25-18, 25-11)
No. 6 White Plains 3, Saks 0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-15)
No. 7 Weaver 3, No. 10 Sacred Heart 2 (25-23, 22-25, 25-20, 23-25, 15-9)
No. 1 Alexandria 3, Faith Christian 0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-13)
No. 4 Oxford 3, Ohatchee 0 (25-16, 25-23, 25-21)
No. 3 Donoho 3, White Plains 1 (25-13, 23-25, 25-21, 25-23)
No. 2 Jacksonville 3, Weaver 0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-20)
Alexandria 3, Oxford 0 (25-22, 25-21, 25-18)
Jacksonville 3, Donoho 2 (25-14, 19-25, 25-13, 23-25, 15-12)
Monday’s match
At Jacksonville State
Championship match: Alexandria (37-7) vs. Jacksonville (27-10), 7 p.m.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
The coaches got it right in the seeding meeting. After a full day of volleyball at Alexandria High School, it will be No. 1 Alexandria and No. 2 Jacksonville in the title match of the Calhoun County Volleyball Tournament Monday night at Jacksonville State.
Alexandria swept No. 4 seed Oxford in its semifinal, 3-0, while Jacksonville was taken to the limit by No. 3 Donoho before winning 15-12 in the fifth set.
Alexandria (37-7) is the defending champion. Jacksonville (27-10) is going back to the finals for the first time since 2016, the second year the championship match was played at JSU.
“It’s been a while,” Jacksonville coach David Clark said. “To get there with these kids I think is a huge step in our development as a team. Anytime you get to play for a championship you get that postseason feeling. This game felt that way. Down the road you have to answer the bell of being pressured.
“It’s going to be a great experience. We’ve played three times and we’re going to have to play extremely well to beat them, and that’s the way it should be. I look for a great match. It’s a neat event and I’m glad my kids get a chance to participate in it.”
Alexandria had its hands full with Oxford’s athleticism and power, but had the wherewithal to pull it out 25-22, 25-21, 25-18. All three sets were tight, but the Lady Cubs pulled away in each with a late run fueled by the serving of Lexi Weber, Sarah Pelham and Anna Johnson.
“I just think they’re pretty tough; I think I have a tough little team,” Alexandria coach Whitney Welch said. “I like how they fight. We try to be as a tough as possible, tougher than other teams and more disciplined at times, and when we’re able to do that well then we usually play pretty good.”
Oxford used a four-point run to open a 20-17 lead in the first set, but Alexandria scored seven straight in an 8-0 run with Weber serving to get to set point. The Lady Jackets brought it back to 24-22 with big hits at the net before Jordan Beason closed it out with one of her 12 kills. She had 27 kills in their two matches.
The Lady Cubs got to set point in the second set with seven straight points with Pelham serving. Oxford brought it back to 24-21 before Beason ended it again with a winner down the line.
Then in the third Johnson scored three straight aces at the end of a six-point run that gave them a 23-17 lead. The Lady Cubs were credited with 13 aces in each of their two matches on the day. Johnson had five against Oxford and six in their 3-0 quarterfinals win over Faith Christian. Weber had four aces against Oxford and Pelham two.
“We served pretty well throughout that match,” Welch said. “We really work on that a lot.”
“I just try to find the player who’s not the best passer,” Johnson said. “You don’t want to serve it to the libero every time, so once I got that first ace I just continually try to make her work for it until they push it up and then you’ve got to find something new that works.”
Clark agreed having a solid serve receive game will be a key to success Monday night.
Speaking of work, Jacksonville certainly had to in beating Donoho 25-14, 19-25, 25-13, 23-25, 15-12. Each of the first three sets were highlighted by the set winner opening a big lead out of the gate and seeing it through. The last two sets couldn’t have been tighter.
“The Donoho girls played really, really well and we had to to match that to even be involved,” Jacksonville coach David Clark said, “because if we hadn’t met that level of play we wouldn’t be playing Monday. We’d be finished.”
Clark thought his team had control of the fourth set once it finally got ahead, pulling away to a 21-17 lead, but Donoho picked up its defense and rallied. The Lady Falcons scored eight of the set’s last 10 points, including the last four, to force a pressure-packed fifth set.
The fifth set was tied at 8, 10, 11, 12. Jacksonville took the lead for good on a service error, got to match point when the Lady Falcons failed to get a ball back over the net and clinched it when Brenna Stone and Anna Terry blocked Lily Grace Draper’s attempt for a big hit at the net.
Jacksonville was led, as usual, by big hitters Stone and Kayla Broom, but wildcard Aly Harris made a “big difference” for the Lady Golden Eagles. Stone had 23 kills, Broom had 17 kills and 16 digs, and both had four blocks, but Harris gave them another option.
“We were resilient,” Clark said. “I don’t think we’ve been this resilient in the last year or so. We took their best punch and kept coming forward. It will help us definitely down the line.”

Jacksonville is back in the county volleyball final for the first time since 2016. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

Alexandria 3, Oxford 0
(25-22, 25-21, 25-18)
KILLS – Alexandria: Jordan Beason 12, Madison Wallace 7, Lexi Weber 3, Anna Johnson 1, Kandyn Blankenship 7, Kaylee Smith 8. Oxford: Brittany Davis 1, Tanyia McDonald 6, Lakijah Brown 9, Kiki Woods 2, Shania Vincent 6, Cadie Burn 1, Aumaria Lindsey 5.
ASSISTS – Alexandria: Sarah Pelham 2, Anna Johnson 29, Kaylee Smith 1. Oxford: Cadie Burn 23.
ACES – Alexandria: Jordan Beason 1, Lexi Weber 4, Sarah Pelham 2, Ashley Parker 1, Anna Johnson 5. Oxford: Tanyia McDonald 2.
DIGS – Alexandria: Jordan Beason 10, Kylie Jordan 1, Madison Wallace 1, Lexi Weber 4, Sarah Pelham 17, Anna Johnson 7, Kandyn Blankenship 10, Kaylee Smith 1. Oxford: Brittany Davis 7, Ari Curry 9, Tanyia McDonald 6, Lakijah Brown 4, Kiki Woods 1, Shania Vincent 10, Cadie Burn 2, Aametria Wilson 2, Javanti Moore 1, Aumaria Lindsey 3.
BLOCKS – Alexandria: Madison Wallace 5, Lexi Weber 4. Oxford: Shania Vincent 2, Aumaria Lindsey 1.
Jacksonville 3, Donoho 2
(25-14, 19-25, 25-13, 23-25, 15-12)
KILLS – Jacksonville: Molly 6, Kayla Broom 17, Brenna Stone 23, Aly Harris 4. Donoho: Maggie Miller 2, Mya Keel 1, Lily Grace Draper 12, Mary Marshall Perry 6, Maggie Wakefield 7, Mercy Mangum 10.
ASSISTS – Jacksonville: Molly Wilson 34, Caitlin Clark 1. Donoho: Maggie Miller 30, Mya Keel 2.
ACES – Jacksonville: Kayla Broom 5, Kayley Sparks 2. Donoho: Maggie Miller 3, Mya Keel 3, Kate Porteous 1, Lily Grace Draper 1, Mary Marshall Perry 2, Mercy Mangum 3.
DIGS – Jacksonville: Molly Wilson 5, Kayla Broom 16, Brenna Stone 10, Allie Thompson 1, Caitlin Clark 13, Bailee Pritchett 14, Lexi Callahan 10, Anna Terry 3. Donoho: Maggie Miller 7, Mya Keel 7, Sarah Waggoner 3, Naira Rahman 1, Kate Porteous 3, Lily Grace Draper 8, Mary Marshall Perry 1, Mercy Mangum 3, Yana Osovska 2.
BLOCKS – Jacksonville: Molly Wilson 3, Kayla Broom 4, Brenna Stone 4, Aly Harris 1. Donoho: Mary Marshall Perry 3, Maggie Wakefield 4.

Alexandria tries to set up a block against Oxford’s Lakijah Brown in their semifinals match. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

To see a gallery of photos from the semifinal round, click this link: www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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