E.A. Sports Today

Donoho in finals

Donoho reaches Class 1A state title match; Alexandria falls in 5A semifinals, Jacksonville suffers heartbreaker in 4A quarters

This photo is from the 2015 finals, but the sentiment is the same. (File photo)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

BIRMINGHAM – Two summers ago Jamie Clendenin came to Donoho with a charge of rebuilding a once-proud but recently down volleyball program. On Halloween night that program will be playing for a state championship.

The Lady Falcons advanced to the Class 1A state title match with a grueling five-set win over Spring Garden Wednesday. They took the winner-take-all tiebreaker 15-6 after Spring Garden forced it with a 30-28 win in Set 4.

The Lady Falcons (44-18) will play Westminster-Oak Mountain Thursday at 4:45 p.m. in the Bill Harris Arena adjacent to the Birmingham Crossplex. They beat the Lady Knights twice in the Donoho Classic earlier this season, including in straight sets (2 of 3) in the finals.
The season before he got the job the Lady Falcons went 7-18 and missed the playoffs for the first time in 33 years, but Clendenin was eager for the challenge.
“I’ve wanted to be a varsity coach for some time,” he told East Alabama Sports Today when he got the job. “… It’s pretty exciting to know that this program is only one state championship behind tying for fourth place (all-time). Moving into something like that is exciting.

“… Going to a place like this there are going to be people who think I can’t do it, I can’t follow suit, but that’s where I come in and I try to do my best. It won’t be about me. It’s always going to be about the kids. If they listen and follow suit and do the best they can they’ll be fine.”

The Lady Falcons had a balanced showing in the semifinals. Mercy Mangum had 15 kills, while Maggie Wakefield and Lily Grace Draper each had 14. Maggie Miller had 40 assists. They also got some strong performances from some of their role players.

The teams were facing each other for the sixth time this season and this one was as intense as the others. The Lady Falcons lost the first set 25-13, but rallied to win the next two 25-18 and 26-24 (after trailing 24-21). They fell behind in the fourth set 7-1, but rallied to have match point four times before the Lady Panthers survived.

Donoho went up big quickly in the fifth set and finished the job.
“In the end, it happened,” Clendenin said. “When you play volleyball in a game like that you’ve got to have certain points go your way. We’ve been in situations where we got to 9-3 and we got nervous; we started playing scared. (Tonight) we were like we’re going to go ahead and take it and take care of business.
“By that last set the girls had that look in their eye of we’re getting this done, guys. I had players who never played back row for me the entire season play back row. Those girls had that look in their eye and you can’t take those girls off the court.”
“We knew the fifth set was do-or-die,” Wakefield said. “Just carrying the little bit of momentum we had of knowing we’ve got to fight right here for everything we’ve worked for over the summer, for every bit of pain we put into the  season, every blood, sweat and tear, everything was going to be put into this set. That’s what we were all thinking and we knew what we had to do.”

Shortly after the match ended the Lady Falcons were headed out for dinner and then to game plan for Thursday. They know it’s Halloween, but trick-or-treating was the farthest thing from their minds.
“The only treat I want is a state ring; that’s the only treat I want,” Clendenin said. “The girls could care less about the candy. They want the big ring.”
(Bill Harris Arena, Birmingham)
CLASS 3A: Geraldine vs. Montgomery Academy, 8 a.m.
CLASS 5A: Jasper vs. Faith Academy, 9:45 a.m.
CLASS 7A: Mountain Brook vs. McGill-Toolen, 11:30 a.m.
CLASS 6A: Hazel Green vs. Spanish Fort, 1:15 p.m.
CLASS 2A: Addison vs. G.W. Long, 3 p.m.
CLASS 1A: Donoho vs. Westminster-Oak Mountain, 4:45 p.m.
CLASS 4A: Providence Christian vs. Bayside Academy, 6:30 p.m.

Spring Garden 3, Millry 0 (25-11, 25-13, 25-15)
Donoho 3, South Lamar 0 (26-24, 25-19, 25-20)
Phillips 3, Pleasant Home 2 (25-19, 15-25, 17-25, 25-19, 15-12)
Westminster-Oak Mountain 3, Athens Bible 2 (22-25, 25-22, 25-21, 21-25, 15-8)
Donoho 3, Spring Garden 2 (13-25, 25-18, 26-24, 28-30, 15-6)
Westminster-Oak Mountain 3, Phillips 1 (20-25, 25-14, 25-17, 27-25)
Championship, Donoho vs. Westminster-Oak Mountain, Thursday, 4:45 p.m.
Montgomery Catholic 3, Jacksonville 2 (17-25, 25-13, 25-18, 23-25, 15-13)
Providence Christian 3, Fairview 0 (25-11, 25-16, 25-18)
Bayside Academy 3, Central-Florence 0 (25-16, 25-11, 25-7)
LAMP 3, Brooks 1 (25-14, 22-25, 25-17, 25-17)
Providence Christian 3, Montgomery Catholic 0 (25-14, 25-11, 25-15)
Bayside Academy 3, LAMP 0 (25-13, 25-8, 25-16)
Championship, Providence Christian vs. Bayside Academy, Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
Jasper 3, Saint James 0 (25-12, 25-12, 25-7)
Alexandria 3, Brewbaker Tech 0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-19)
Faith Academy 3, Guntersville 1 (25-22, 12-25, 25-23, 25-18)
Lawrence County 3, Ramsay 0 (25-22, 25-22, 26-24)
Jasper 3, Alexandria 0 (25-13, 25-16, 25-13)
Faith Academy 3, Lawrence County 1 (26-24, 24-26, 29-27, 25-23)
Championship, Jasper vs. Faith Academy, Thursday, 9:45 a.m.

Donoho 3, Spring Garden 2
(Donoho statistics)
KILLS: Lily Grace Draper 14, Mary Marshall Perry 4, Maggie Wakefield 14, Mercy Mangum 15, Ayesha Siddiqua 1, Yana Osovska 4.
ASSISTS: Maggie Miller 40, Ayesha Siddiqua 1.
ACES: Mya Keel 3, Ayesha Siddiqua 1.
DIGS: Lily Grace Draper 8, Mercy Mangum 1, Maggie Miller 5, Mya Keel 7, Sarah Waggoner 6,
Ayesha Siddiqua 5, Yana Osovska 6, Kate Porteous 1.
BLOCKS: Mary Marshall Perry 1.

Donoho 3, South Lamar 0: Maggie Wakefield 14 kills; Mercy Mangum 10 kills; Maggie Miller 32 assists, 4 aces.

Montgomery Catholic 3, Jacksonville 2: Kayla Broom 27 kills, 12 blocks, 11 digs; Brenna Stone 22 kills, 7 blocks, 16 digs; Molly Wilson, 7 kills, 28 assists.

Alexandria 3, Brewbaker Tech 0: Jordan Beason 13 kills, 7 digs; Madison Wallace 9 kills, 3 blocks; Lexi Weber 11 kills; Sarah Pelham 17 digs; Ashley Parker 6 digs, 4 aces; Anna Johnson 3 kills, 31 assists, 7 digs, 2 aces; Kandyn Blankenship 4 kills, 10 digs; Kaylee Smith 5 kills.

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