E.A. Sports Today

A higher plane

Donoho volleyball team learning early what life is like as a defending state champion

Pleasant Valley 3-1
Def. White Plains, 25-23, 25-22
Def. Southside, 25-18, 25-22
Def. Donoho, 22-25, 25-23, 15-11
Lost to Oxford, 27-25, 25-19
Donoho 2-1
Def. Southside, 25-20, 25-22
Def. Oxford, 25-18, 27-25
Lost to Pleasant Valley 22-25, 25-23, 15-11
Oxford 1-2
Def. Pleasant Valley, 27-25, 25-19
Lost to Donoho, 25-18, 27-25
Lost to White Plains, 25-22, 25-23
White Plains 1-2
Def. Oxford, 25-22, 25-23
Lost to Pleasant Valley, 25-23, 15-22
Lost to Southside, 25-17, 25-22
Southside 1-2
Def. White Plains, 25-17, 25-22
Lost to Pleasant Valley, 25-18, 25-22
Lost to Donoho, 25-20, 25-22

At Hoover
Friday’s matches
Alexandria 2, Helena 0 (25-13, 25-13)
Alexandria 2, James Clemens 0 (25-9, 25-19)
Saturday’s matches
Hoover 2, Alexandria 0 (25-16, 25-17)
Jasper 2, Alexandria 0 (25-22, 25-23)

At Jacksonville
Jacksonville 3, Weaver 0 (25-16, 25-8, 25-18)
Springville 3, Weaver 0 (25-13, 25-20, 25-15)
Jacksonville 3, Springville 0 (25-7, 25-19, 25-16)

By East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – There’s a lot more going on when you take the floor with “state champion” attached to your name and the Donoho volleyball team felt a little of that Saturday when it opened its season in a quad match at Pleasant Valley.

The Lady Falcons, the reigning Class 1A state champion and 2020 preseason No. 1, went 2-1 in their first real action of the season. They beat Southside and Oxford in straight sets and lost to Pleasant Valley in a three-set tiebreaker.

“I think the girls felt more pressure than they should have, if that makes sense,” Donoho coach Jamie Clendenin said. “We went to a play date last weekend and we didn’t look very good. Honestly, I don’t know how you could look worse in practice. But we fixed some things and it looked pretty good today.

“There were some nerves. It’s a new season, you’re going to have those nerves; that’s why I put them in as many matches as I have. I told them last year’s success will not create this year’s success; if anything, it creates a target on you. Today was fun. I was glad we got to play. I hope we have a long season. I like where we stand right now.”

The Lady Falcons were a young team when they staved off six championship points in the fourth set and went on to beat Westminster-Oak Mountain 3-2 for the program’s 11th state championship and first since 2012, and the bulk of that team returns to defend.

Championship MVP Maggie Miller set them up all day and recorded 43 assists in three matches. Maggie Wakefield had a team-high 34 kills, while Lily Grace Draper had 23 and Mercy Mangum 18. Draper also had six aces.

The Lady Falcons put their championship-style resiliency on full display in their match against Pleasant Valley. They rallied from 17-4 down to take the first set before ultimately losing 15-11 in the third.

“It’s a point at a time,” Clendenin said. “Last year we were losing 24-19 and won that fourth set (in the title match). At any time the tide can change.”

The Lady Falcons were a little late in designing their state championship rings, but they are starting to arrive. The hope is they will be presented during Friday’s home football game.

One of the highlights of the Lady Falcons’ season is the Donoho Classic, an early gathering of most of the Class 1A North Regional contenders. Due to coronavirus concerns, the event this year has been reduced to a four-team, one-court quad match with Donoho, preseason No. 3 Meek, No. 5 Decatur Heritage and No. 10 Cedar Bluff.

“It’s the most I could have,” Clendenin said. “I’m just hoping next year we can resume with some normalcy.”

Pleasant Valley played all four teams invited to Saturday’s quad match and went 3-1. 

Fatigue was starting to set in on the host team by the time it played its fourth match of the day and they fell to Oxford 2-0 allowing everyone who played to go home with at least one win. Despite the setback, PV coach Dana Bryant was pleased with her team’s play.

The Lady Raiders did produce some nice numbers. Leah Patterson had 30 kills, 40 digs, five blocks and four aces. Mattie Glass and Lily Henry both had 19 kills and 25 digs. Glass had seven aces, Allie Bryant 79 digs and five aces, and Rylee Haynes 72 assists.

“Overall they played well today,” Bryant said. “We’re excited to move forward.”

Oxford, meanwhile, is using the early part of the season to integrate several new players into the lineup and gained a large measure of confidence knocking off one of the expected contenders for the county championship. Lakijah Brown led their day with 24 kills, 11 digs and three aces. Adie Burn had 45 assists and nine digs, and Kara King had six kills and six assists.

“We’re trying to work on consistency on our end,” Lady Jackets assistant coach Rachel Poe said. “We have a team of mostly new people. Not having camp and play dates didn’t allow us to use lineups and get chemistry playing together. I hope we have the time this season in order for the girls to learn one another better and develop chemistry.”

Alexandria splits

HOOVER – After opening the tournament with a pair of wins, the competition ramped up on Saturday and Alexandria, the fifth-ranked team in Class 5A, dropped matches to 7A No. 1 Hoover and 6A No. 6 Jasper to split the weekend.

Lexi Weber had six kills against Jasper and five against Hoover and a pair of blocks against each. Sarah Pelham had 12 digs against Jasper and five against Hoover, while Kandyn Blankenship had five against each team. Jordan Beason had five kills and four digs against Hoover. Anna Johnson had 10 assists against Jasper, 11 against Hoover and four digs against each team.

“We have work to do, but Hoover is just better; that’s the best team I’ve seen in a while,” Lady Cubs coach Whitney Welch said. “We are right there with Jasper. We will keep working, but I’m proud of the (4-2 overall) start.”

J’ville strong

JACKSONVILLE –Brenna Stone knocked down 27 kills and Kayla Broom logged 20 as 5A No. 2 Jacksonville dominated Weaver and Southside in its Carostrong Quad match. Stone had 16 kills in the victory over Weaver, while the two front-line stars combined for 21 kills, five blocks and four aces against Springville. Caitlin Clark had 11 kills in the two matches and Molly Wilson had 47 assists.

The Lady Golden Eagles have not dropped a set (10) in four matches this season.

(PV stats, 4 match totals)
KILLS: Leah Patterson 30, Mattie Glass 19, Allie Bryant 4, Lily Henry 19, Maddie Schwabe 5, Rylee Haynes 10, Tori Turner 3.
ACES: Leah Patterson 4, Mattie Glass 7, Allie Bryant 5, Lily Henry 2, Maddie Schwabe 1, Rylee Haynes 1.
ASSISTS: Rylee Haynes 72.
DIGS: Leah Patterson 40, Mattie Glass 25, Allie Bryant 79, Lily Henry 25, Maddie Schwabe 18, Rylee Haynes 15, Tori Turner 2.
BLOCKS: Leah Patterson 5, Lily Henry 2, Rylee Haynes 2, Tori Turner 4.

(Oxford stats, 3 match totals)
KILLS: Lakijah Brown 24, Channing Gallahar 3, Lisa Montgomery 5, Javanti Moore 9, Kara King 6.
ACES: Lakijah Brown 3.
ASSISTS: Cadie Burn 45, Adrionna Foster 24, Kara King 6.
DIGS: Lakijah Brown 11, Cadie Burn 9, Channing Gallahar 9, Aametria Wilson 17.

(Donoho stats, 3 match totals)
KILLS: Maggie Miller 4, Lily Grace Draper 23, Mercy Mangum 18, Maggie Wakefield 34, Mary Marshall Perry 7.
ACES: Maggie Miller 2, Lily Grace Draper 6, Mercy Mangum 2, Maggie Wakefield 3, Mary Marshall Perry 3, Ayesha Siddiqua 1.
ASSISTS: Maggie Miller 43, Mercy Mangum 1, Maggie Wakefield 4, Naira Rahman 7, Ayesha Siddiqua 8, Sarah Waggoner 5, Sam Wakefield 11.
DIGS: Naira Rahman 11, Ayesha Siddiqua 16, Sarah Waggoner 14, Sam Wakefield 22.
BLOCKS: Maggie Wakefield 6, Estella Connell 2.

(Alexandria stats, 4 match totals)
KILLS: Jordan Beason 11, Anna Johnson 4, Sarah Pelham 3, Lexi Weber 24, TyShica Woodgett 3, Kandyn Blankenship 7, Blakeley Mobbs 4, Kaylee Smith 2, Rylee Gattis 8, Ashley Wells 1.
ACES: Jordan Beason 7, Anna Johnson 11, Sarah Pelham 5, Lexi Weber 2, Jolie Weathington 1, Rylee Gattis 1.
ASSISTS: Anna Johnson 46, Sarah Pelham 5, TyShica Woodgett 1.
DIGS: Jordan Beason 11, Anna Johnson 15, Sarah Pelham 27, Lexi Weber 1, TyShica Woodgett 1, Kandyn Blankenship 17, Kaylee Smith 7, Rylee Gattis 4.
BLOCKS: Lexi Weber 7, TyShica Woodgett 1, Blakeley Mobbs 2, Rylee Gattis 3.

(Jacksonville stats)
Brenna Stone – vs. Weaver: 16 kills, 2 aces; vs. Springville: 11 kills, 3 blocks, 2 aces.
Kayla Broom – vs. Weaver: 10 kills, 2 aces; vs. Springville: 10 kills, 2 blocks, 2 aces.
Molly Wilson – vs. Weaver: 25 assists; vs. Springville: 22 assists, 3 aces.
Caitlin Clark – vs. Weaver: 5 kills, 3 aces; vs. Springville: 6 kills, 5 aces, 9 digs.
Aly Harris – vs. Weaver: 5 kills; vs. Springville: 6 kills.

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