E.A. Sports Today

Donoho drought done

Lady Falcons win first area title since 2015, ending longest dry spell in program history; county sends 7 teams to regionals Monday

Donoho’s Maggie Wakefield goes up for one of her 19 kills in the Class 1A Area 10 tournament against Sacred Heart. (Photos by Russ Connell)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Maggie Wakefield has always wanted to put some numbers on the Donoho area volleyball tournament board hanging in Sproull Gym. Now she’s got the chance.

This is the board listing all of Donoho’s area volleyball tournament titles.

The Lady Falcons ended the longest drought between area tournament titles in their program’s history Monday night when they scored 3-0 sweeps of Jacksonville Christian and Sacred Heart to win the Class 1A Area 10 crown.

They had won 33 area titles since 1977, but Monday’s was their first since 2015. Never in that stretch had they gone more than one year without tasting total victory.

On this night they beat JCA 25-18, 25-14, 25-10 and Sacred Heart 31-29, 25-12, 25-18, and will play Area 15 runner-up Oakwood in their regional opener at Huntsville’s VonBraun Center Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Sacred Heart earned its first trip to the regionals under coach Haley Clark with a 25-19, 25-16, 25-21 win over Faith Christian and will play Area 15 champion Lindsay Lane Thursday at 10:15.
“Our very first practice coach (Jamie Clendenin) kept stressing the point of all these plaques and how we wanted to add another state championship plaque, and the only way to do that is to keep going step-by-step,” Wakefield said. “For me, personally, I’ve always, always, always wanted to put a number up on volleyball, so I’m glad I get to do that this year.”
“This night was something special,” Clendenin said. “I’ve coached varsity sports for over 10 years and this is the first time I’ve ever had a team win area. This was one of our goals, to win area. We’ve got more goals coming forward – we’ll set some new ones tomorrow – but it’s definitely huge. I’d like to get some other numbers on the board, for sure.”
Saks, Pleasant Valley and Jacksonville also claimed area titles Monday night. The county qualified seven teams to their respective regionals. Two more have a chance to punch their tickets Tuesday night.

None of the current Donoho players were on the varsity the last time the Lady Falcons won an area championship. Wakefield, a sophomore hitter who joined the program as a seventh grader the year after its last area title, had the match of her life against Sacred Heart. She had 19 kills – knocking down the winner in the first two sets – and six blocks.

“It was unbelievable,” Clendenin said.“She played her best night tonight. I’ve been preaching to her the last few weeks to keep swinging because sometimes she mentally puts herself out of games. If you mess up just keep swinging and tonight she kept swinging. It was great.”
The Lady Falcons used their first-set victory as a springboard to the championship. They served set point at 24-23, then staved off set point four times before Lily Grace Draper gave them a 30-29 lead and Wakefield finished it on the next point.
They jumped out to a 9-1 and 12-2 lead in the second set and pulled away after the Lady Cardinals closed to 15-11. The third set was tight midway through, but Donoho broke away from a 12-12 tie with a 9-2 run.
In addition to Wakefield’s big finish, Lily Grace Draper had 10 kills in the championship match, Maggie Miller had 33 assists and Mya Keel had seven digs. For the tournament, Wakefield had 29 kills, Draper 24 and Mary Marshall Perry 13, Miller had 72 assists and seven aces and Keel had 16 digs. 
“To be able to win (that first set) we knew even on our worse game or our not-so-great game we could grind it out and work through everything to get the result we needed,” Wakefield said. “I think in that set we all showed that we wanted to be an area champion, that we wanted to go to state and we wanted to be state champions.”

Sacred Heart joined the Lady Falcons at the regionals with their third win of the season over Faith Christian in one of their strongest showings of the year.
Amiyah Buchanan had 11 kills, Alyssa Bell had 10 and Sophia Allen and Angel Nguyen had six apiece. Seanna Johnson had 63 digs in the Lady Cardinals’ two matches and Allen had 53 total assists.
“My girls put 150 percent into everything they wanted,” Clark said after the Faith match. “They wanted to win and they won. They just don’t want to lose. I have a lot of really hard-working good athletes and at the end of the day that’s what really matters. Heart goes longer than talent sometimes.”
Donoho statistics
(Two-match totals)
KILLS: Lily Grace Draper 24, Mary Marshall Perry 14, Mercy Mangum 2, Maggie Wakefield 29, Yana Osovska 3, Stella Connell 4, Mya Keel 2, Maggie Miller 1.
ASSISTS: Stella Connell 1, Maggie Miller 71.
ACES: Mary Marshall Perry 3, Lily Grace Draper 2, Maggie Miller 7, Mya Keel 2, 
DIGS: Lily Grace Draper 2, Mercy Mangum 3, Maggie Wakefield 1, Yana Osovska 3, Maggie Miller 5, Mya Keel 16, Sarah Waggoner 5, Ayesha Siddiqua 4.
BLOCKS: Mary Marshall Perry 3, Maggie Wakefield 6.
Sacred Heart statistics
(vs. Faith Christian)
KILLS: Robyn Thomas 1, Sophia Allen 6, Angel Nguyen 6, Amiyah Buchanan 11, Alyssa Bell 10, Seanna Johnson 2.
ACES: Robyn Thomas 1, Angel Nguyen 1, Amiyah Buchanan 2, Miyah Harris 2.
DIGS: Robyn Thomas 5, Sophia Allen 5, Angel Nguyen 6, Amiyah Buchanan 2, Alyssa Bell 2, Seanna Johnson 12, Jordan Sabree 3, Miyah Harris 4.
BLOCKS: Alyssa Bell 1.
Donoho – Maggie Wakefield, Maggie Miller, Mya Keel, Lily Grace Draper.
Sacred Heart – Alyssa Bell, Seanna Johnson, Sophia Allen, Angel Nguyen.
Faith Christian – Sydnee Johnson.
JCA – Elizabeth Goss.
Offensive MVP – Maggie Wakefield, Donoho.
Defensive MVP: Seanna, Johnson, Sacred Heart.

Class 3A Area 11

JACKSONVILLE – Nothing gets Karmyn Sparks going than a little pound cake during the day and she had some before leading Pleasant Valley to another area tournament title. The top-seeded Lady Raiders (28-22) swept Glencoe in the championship match after turning away Piedmont in the semifinals.
Sparks had 16 kills and five solo blocks for the Lady Raiders, who’ll open regional play in Huntsville against New Hope, Thursday at 12:45 p.m. Leah Patterson had 25 kills, 11 digs, four aces and five blocks; Mattie Glass had 11 kills and 21 digs; Rylee Haynes had six kills, but dished 61 assists and had 11 digs; and Allie Bryant had 27 digs.
Glencoe earned its second straight trip to the regionals with an intense five-set win over Weaver. The Lady Jackets had taken only three sets from Weaver in three prior matches and after dropping the first set 25-14 it looked like those troubles would continue. Glencoe coach Jamie Barkley attributed the start to nerves for her lineup that includes three freshmen and two sophomores.
The Lady Jackets collected themselves during the break and won the second set 25-15. They let Weaver rally from double set point to win the third 25-23, won the fourth with a big finish 25-21 to even the match, then rolled in the tiebreaker 15-6.
“My assistant coach has been saying all season it’s going to peak at the right minute,” Barkley said. “We have been talking all weekend about playing where your feet are, being where your feet are. They said OK my feet are here and I’m ready to play.”
Weaver broke away in the first set with a 15-3 run and looked as if it might have its way with the Lady Jackets. Glencoe used a 10-2 flurry in the middle of the second set to climb back into the match.
Glencoe had a 23-20 lead in the third, but Weaver scored the last five points of the set with Marlee Wells setting up Nevaeh Hawkins for the winner. Glencoe evened the match and forced the 15-point tiebreaker when it broke away from a 21-21 tie by scoring the last four points.
Glencoe jumped out to leads of 5-1 and 11-2 in the tiebreaker. Aubrey Gray led the Lady Jackets with 13 kills. Kaylee Knight had 13 kills, while Bri Beyerle, Lexi Gray and Taylor Russell had eight apiece. Jaxson Sizemore had 20 assists, Allie Silvey had 19 and Byerle had three aces and three blocks, including one on Weaver’s Kayleigh Hindsman to open the tiebreaker that got her team off and running.
“Coming to a new school and getting so close to these seniors and being able to help them get (to Huntsville) is so (special),” said Beyerle, a sophomore who transferred in from Sacred Heart during the offseason. “I’m so excited. I’ve gotten so close to my team and they’ve been so welcoming, especially coming from such a small school, just being able to help them has meant a lot.”
Pleasant Valley statistics
Two-match statistics)
KILLS – Leah Patterson 25, Mattie Glass 11, Karmyn Sparks 16, Madison Birders 1, Allie Bryant 3, Rylee Haynes 6, Lily Henry 4.
ASSISTS – Allie Bryant 3, Rylee Haynes 61.
ACES – Leah Patterson 4, Mattie Glass 3, Allie Bryant 1, Rylee Haynes 1, Maddie Schwabe 4, Lily Henry 2.
DIGS – Leah Patterson 11, Mattie Glass 21, Karmyn Sparks 1, Madison Borders 1, Allie Bryant 27, Rylee Haynes 11, Maddie Schwabe 6, Lily Henry 14.
BLOCKS – Leah Patterson 5, Mattie Glass 2, Karmyn Sparks 5, Madison Borders 3, Rylee Haynes 2.
Glencoe statistics
(vs. Weaver)
KILLS – Adrianna Bethel 1, Allie Silvey 2, Aubrey Gray 13, Brianna Beyerle 8, Kaylee Knight 11, Kinslee Gray 1, Lexi Gray 8 Mandy McGinnis 2, Taylor Russell 8.
ASSISTS – Adrianna Bethel 1, Allie Silvey 19, Aubrey Gray 2, Brianna Beyerle 2, Jaxson Sizemore 20, Kaylee Knight 2, Kinslee Gray 1.
ACES – Adrianna Bethel 2, Allie Silvey 1, Brianna Beyerle 3, Jaxson Sizemore 2, Kinslee Gray 3, Madalyn Amberson 3
DIGS – Adrianna Bethel 11, Allie Silvey 8, Aubrey Gray 2, Brianna Beyerle 4, Jaxson Sizemore 2, Kaylee Knight 3, Kinsley Gray 5, Lexi Gray 1, Madalyn Amberson 3, Taylor Russell 3.
BLOCKS – Brianna Beyerle 3, Kaylee Knight 3, Taylor Russell 1.

(vs. Pleasant Valley)
KILLS – Aubrey Gray 9, Brianna Beyerle 3, Kaylee Knight 7,, Lexi Gray 2, Taylor Russell 5.
ASSISTS – Adrianna Bethel 1, Allie Silvey 8, Brianna Beyerle 2, Jaxson Sizemore 9, Kaylee Knight 2, Kinslee Gray 1, Madalyn Amberson 1.
ACES – Brianna Beyerle 1, Jaxson Sizemore 1, Madalyn Amberson 3.
DIGS – Adrianna Bethel 7, Allie Silvey 7, Brianna Beyerle 2, Jaxson Sizemore 9, Kaylee Knight 2, Kinsley Gray 1, Madalyn Amberson 1.
BLOCKS – Lexi Gray 1, Taylor Russell 2.
Pleasant Valley – Leah Patterson, Rylee Haynes, Mattie Glass, Allie Bryant.
Glencoe – Bri Beyerle, Aubrey Gray, Nani Bethel.
Piedmont – Jaidyn Young, Ta’Leaha Ridley.
Weaver – McKenna Flynn, Kayleigh Hindsman.
MVP: Karmyn Sparks, Pleasant Valley.

Class 4A Area 10

JACKSONVILLE – David Clark couldn’t begin to tell you how many area tournament titles his Jacksonville program has won in a row, but he will tell you each of them are special.
The Golden Eagles won another with three-set wins over Cherokee County and Hokes Bluff. They beat Centre 25-20, 25-10, 25-16 and then took down Hokes Bluff in the final 25-15, 25-17, 26-24.
“It means a lot, they always do, it’s not easy.,” Clark said. “It goes back to you appreciate them more. Sometimes I feel like back years ago I didn’t appreciate them as much but now it’s a big deal. I don’t know if I’m getting toward the end or my daughter’s playing or what, but they are a big deal.”
For the Golden Eagles winning area championships is the standard, and on this night, they played “very solid” to make it happen.
Kayla Broom had 15 kills and seven blocks in the win over Cherokee County. Brenna Stone had 11 kills and four blocks, while Aly Harris had seven kills and Molly Wilson dealt 27 assists.
In the win over Hokes Bluff, Broom had 15 kills and four blocks, Stone had eight kills and Wilson had four kills and 22 assists.
Jacksonville will open its Class 4A regional in Huntsville against Elkmont Thursday at 2 p.m.
“I told them in the locker room after the first game there are a lot of people who’d love to say they’re practicing tomorrow and you’ve accomplished that by winning the first game,” Clark said. “We’ve been very fortunate, we’ve been there a lot, but you can never take it for granted. 
“It’s always a goal, kind of the standard for us, but I want them to be real careful about taking any of that for granted because it can go away in a hurry. We’re changing classifications, that can be a big deal, so every opportunity you get to get there is big.”
Hokes Bluff reached the finals by sweeping White Plains in three sets. Gracie Morgan had six kills, two blocks and four aces for White Plains. – Gregory Kirby 
Jacksonville statistics
(vs. Cherokee County)
KILLS – Molly Wilson 1, Kayla Broom 15, Brenna Stone 11, Aly Harris 7, Shelby Salmon 4, Allie Thompson 1, 
ASSISTS – Molly Wilson 27, Kayla Broom 1, Aly Harris 1, Allie Thompson 1.
ACES – Molly Wilson 3, Shelby Salmon 2, Caitlin Clark 1, Bailee Pritchett 1.
DIGS – Molly Wilson 2, Kayla Broom 2, Brenna Stone 5, Aly Harris 1, Shelby Salmon 2, Caitlin Clark 7, Bailee Pritchett 8, Lexie Callahan 5, Bailey VanCleave 5.
BLOCKS – Kayla Broom 7, Brenna Stone 4, Aly Harris 1, Shelby Salmon 1.
(vs. Hokes Bluff)
KILLS – Molly Wilson 4, Kayla Broom 15, Brenna Stone 8, Aly Harris 6, Shelby Salmon 3.
ASSISTS – Molly Wilson 22, Kayla Broom 1, Aly Harris 1, Shelby Salmon 1, Caitlin Clark 1, Lexie Callahan 1.
ACES – Kayla Broom 1, Shelby Salmon 3, Kayley Sparks 2.
DIGS – Molly Wilson 3, Kayla Broom 5, Brenna Stone 3, Aly Harris 2, Shelby Salmon 1, Allie Thompson 1, Caitlin Clark 4, Bailee Pritchett 4, Lexie Callahan 8, Bailey VanCleave 3.
BLOCKS – Molly Wilson 2, Kayla Broom 4, Brenna Stone 3, Aly Harris 1, Allie Thompson 1.
White Plains statistics
(vs. Hokes Bluff)
KILLS – Gracie Morgan 6, Allison Arenth 1, Kassidy Ledbetter 2, Lilly Ponder 2, Ashlyn Cryer 4.
ASSISTS – Natalie Pinto 10, Reece Roberts 5.
ACES – Gracie Morgan 4, Reece Roberts 1, Emma Ponder 1.
DIGS – Gracie Morgan 2, Allison Arenth 1, Natalie Pinto 1, Reece Roberts 4, Emma Ponder 5, Peyton Helms 2.
BLOCKS – Gracie Morgan 2, Allison Arenth 6, Kassidy Ledbetter 2, Lilly Ponder 1, Ashlyn Cryer 1.
Class 3A Area 8: Saks roared back from two sets down rallied from two sets down to beat Wellborn for the championship. Wellborn earned its trip to the South regionals by sweeping Randolph County.
Class 5A Area 12: Alexandria had an easy time with Etowah, holding the Lady Devils to eight points total in the first two sets, but fell to Southside in the area championship game. 

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