E.A. Sports Today

Tuesday volleyball

Donoho splits with Alexandria, Ohatchee on Senior Night, Alexandria sweeps, Jacksonville erupts at end to beat Oxford, PV gets area win

Tuesday’s results
Alexandria 2, Ohatchee 0 (25-16, 25-22)
Alexandria 2, Donoho 0 (25-21, 25-23)
Donoho 2, Ohatchee 0 (25-15, 25-21)
Jacksonville 3, Oxford 1 (25-10, 18-25, 25-18, 25-11)
Pleasant Valley 3, Wellborn 0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-13)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The rings the Donoho volleyball team received last Thursday for winning the 2019 state championship have a lot in common with the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl rings for beating the Atlanta Falcons in 2017.

The story goes each of the Patriots’ championship rings that year was adorned with 283 diamonds, a not-too-subtle nod to the 28-3 deficit they rallied from to win Super Bowl LI with the game’s greatest comeback.

Now what’s that got to do with the rings of a Class 1A state volleyball champion? It’s all in the numbers.

In at least one of them, last year’s Class 1A tournament MVP Maggie Miller had inscribed in the ample space behind the jewel the numbers “19-24.” Lady Falcons coach Jamie Clendenin had a similar inscription etched into his ring with the additional phrase “never give up.”

For those who might have forgotten, that was the score Donoho rallied from in the fourth set of last year’s championship match – staving off six championship points – before knocking off Westminster-Oak Mountain in five sets for their 11th  state title all-time and first since 2012. They also came back from a 19-24 set score in their semifinals win over Spring Garden.

It is one of fondest memories Miller will have of her time with the Lady Falcons, a career that was singularly recognized Tuesday night as the only senior on a Senior Night moved up the calendar due to coronavirus concerns – and now it’s permanently engraved in gold. 

“We never gave up, even when it got hard in the end,” Miller said. “They announced championship points six times in a row and we still came back.

“That’s the one thing that stands out from that game, us coming back. They were already bringing out the table with the trophies on it and we knew the parents were packing up already and we came back.”

The Lady Falcons didn’t get to 19-24 Tuesday night, but they did have Ohatchee right when they wanted it in their 2-0 sweep (25-15, 25-21) to open the tri-match. Later in the evening they dropped two tight sets in a 25-21, 25-23 loss to Alexandria. The Lady Cubs beat Ohatchee 2-0 (25-16, 25-22) in the middle match. Miller had a kill and a dig in each match, 18 assists against Alexandria and 12 against Ohatchee.

Teammate Maggie Wakefield, who was resting a sore shoulder and didn’t play in the night’s matches, volunteered to introduce Miller to the crowd when Clendenin hadn’t come up with a speech yet and said she was honored to do it for “a great friend and great teammate.” Miller, the recently elected class president, was appreciative of all they did.

“It was special having all these girls support me because I know we all put the work in and I’m just thankful for them,” she said. “I was just happy to be playing on our court and to be playing volleyball this season, because there was a good chance (it might all end) because there’s only six people in my grade (out of 28 seniors) going to school this week. I sit in the corner of all my classes to make sure I don’t get sent home.”

Clendenin will always remember Miller as a player who broke away from the status quo and “set the tone” for the program he was trying to establish.

“I’m one of those coaches who really pushes them, if you want to play you’ve got to earn your spot,” he said. “I brought up a younger player as a setter and Maggie Miller just said ‘Not today. I’m taking it.’ We’re definitely going to miss her leadership. I hope we have a full long season for her and if not at least we got a good ‘W’ on Senior Night.”

Alexandria kept it from being an altogether perfect Senior Night when it won the getaway match in two sets.

The Lady Cubs were playing their second set of matches in as many days without one of their best players, quarantined for the next 14 days due to perceived exposure to the coronavirus. They didn’t get that word until early Sunday evening and have been adjusting on the fly ever since.

They’ve moved Rylee Gattis into the middle and put Blakeley Mobbs on the right side to compensate and have won two of three matches, all against in-county competition. Mobbs had four kills and Gattis three against Donoho, and both had a pair of blocks. They each had one kill against Ohatchee.

“We’re doing OK,” Lady Cubs coach Whitney Welch said. “It’s an interesting year. We feel like we’re doing super well until we lost a couple players and our consistency has been very rollercoaster-ish. That’s to be expected. With everything going on our kids are being pretty resilient.”

The Lady Cubs did get a piece of good news on the coronavirus front. They returned Crossley Sparks from quarantine and she got in a couple reps at right setter. Jordan Beason led the Lady Cubs with 16 kills in the two matches. Sarah Pelham had 24 digs and Anna Johnson had 37 assists.

Golden Eagles bounce back

JACKSONVILLE – After a tough weekend in Montgomery in which it lost four of five matches against a variety of teams, Jacksonville returned home and beat a more familiar foe for the second time in as many days, this time taking down Oxford 3-1 (25-10, 18-25, 25-18, 25-11).

When this team was younger the Golden Eagles struggled to bring the final points home, but they closed Tuesday night’s match with a flourish. They broke away from a 10-10 tie in the fourth set with a 15-1 run.

“It’s just a matter of doing several things in a row correctly,” Jacksonville coach David Clark said. “If this group can be consistent we are very explosive. The problem is we like to spend part of our time stepping on our own shoelaces. All volleyball teams (do that), but your good ones limit that to small areas.”

Interestingly, they made their end run behind Bailee Pritchett’s effectively soft serve and a rotation that had stars Kayla Broom and Brenna Stone both on the back line. After breaking the tie to retain possession, they scored 11 straight points with Pritchett serving and they closed out the match with a full intensity kill by Stone at the net. 

Stone had 19 kills in the match and Broom had 14. Molly Wilson had 38 assists.

“This group two years ago really struggled late in matches, second half of matches,” Clark said. “Eighteen to 25 was a struggle. We lost a lot of games where we were ahead 18, 19, 20, so we’ve been working our tail off in practice, in scenarios, things we do. We talk a lot about that end of the match and do a lot of play to learn how to finish, and that’s what this group had to do. And for the most part, except for Saturday, we’ve done a really good job of it.”

The Jacksonville volleyball team comes together to celebrate its 3-1 victory over Oxford. On the cover, Maggie Miller (5) joins her teammates after Donoho’s sweep of Ohatchee before being recognized as the team’s only senior on Senior Night.

Match stats

(Alexandria stats)
KILLS – Jordan Beason 9, Anna Johnson 2, TyShica Woodgett 2, Kandyn Blankenship 5, Blakeley Mobbs 1, Rylee Gattis 1, Ashley Wells 1.
ACES – Anna Johnson 2, Kaylee Smith 1.
DIGS – Jordan Beason 2, Anna Johnson 4, Sarah Pelham 11, TyShica Woodgett 1, Kandyn Blankenship 4, Kaylee Smith 5.
ASSISTS – Anna Johnson 17.

KILLS – Alexandria: Jordan Beason 7, Anna Johnson 2, TyShica Woodgett 3, Kandyn Blankenship 4, Blakeley Mobbs 4, Kaylee Smith 2, Rylee Gattis 3; Donoho: Maggie Miller 1, Lily Grace Draper 10, Mercy Mangum 1, Mary Marshall Perry 3, Estella Connell 4, Yana Osovska 2.
ACES – Alexandria: Anna Johnson 2, Kandyn Blankenship 2, Kaylee Smith 2; Donoho: Ayesha Siddiqua 1, Lily Grace Draper 2, Mary Marshall Perry 1.
DIGS – Alexandria: Jordan Beason 7, Anna Johnson 8, Sarah Pelham 13, TyShica Woodgett 1, Kandyn Blankenship 5, Kaylee Smith 8, Abby Prichard 1; Donoho: Maggie Miller 1, Sam Wakefield 3, Sara Waggoner1, Naira Rehman 1, Ayesha Siddiqua 3, Lily Grace Draper 6, Mercy Mangum 1, Mary Marshall Perry 3, Yana Osovska 1.
BLOCKS – Alexandria: Blakeley Mobbs 2, Rylee Gattis 2.
ASSISTS – Alexandria: Anna Johnson 20, Sarah Pelham 2; Donoho: Maggie Miller 18, Naira Rehman 1.

KILLS – Ohatchee: Jorda Crook 12, Gracee Haynes 2, Tori Vice 2; Donoho: Maggie Miller 1, Lily Grace Draper 4, Mercy Mangum 4, Mary Marshall Perry 4, Estella Connell 3.
ACES – Donoho: Maggie Miller 1, Naira Rehman 1, Lily Grace Draper 1.
DIGS – Donoho: Maggie Miller 1, Sam Wakefield 3, Sara Waggoner 1, Naira Rehman 2, Lily Grace Draper 1, Mercy Mangum 1, Mary Marshall Perry 1, Yana Osovska 1.
BLOCKS – Ohatchee: Jorda Crook 3, Tori Vice 1, Gracie George 1.
ASSISTS – Ohatchee: Abby Hester 17; Donoho: Maggie Miller 12.

KILLS – Oxford: Channing Gallahar 2, Lakijah Brown 10, Kara King 2, Lisa Montgomery 3, Abbie Mitchell 2, Javanti Moore 4; Jacksonville: Molly Wilson 3, Kayla Broom 14, Brenna Stone 19, Caitlin Clark 3, Aly Harris 9.
ACES – Oxford: Cadie Burn 2, Ari Curry 1, Ashley Paulson 1; Jacksonville: Molly Wilson 1, Brenna Stone 3, Bailee Pritchett 3.
DIGS – Oxford: Cadie Burn 4, Ari Curry 9, Lakijah Brown 6, Lisa Montgomerry 1, Aametria Wilson 5, Javanti Moore 1, Ashley Paulson 3; Jacksonville: Molly Wilson 2, Kayla Broom 9, Brenna Stone 13, Caitlin Clark 10, Lexie Callahan 5, Bailee Pritchett 4.
BLOCKS – Oxford: Channing Gallahar 1, Lakijah Brown 1, Lisa Montgomery 2, Javanti Moore 2; Jacksonville: Molly Wilson 1, Kayla Broom 3, Brenna Stone 1, Caitlin Clark 1, Aly Harris 3.
ASSISTS – Oxford: Cadie Burn 10, Kara King 3, Adrionna Foster 8; Jacksonville: Molly Wilson 38, Kayla Broom 2, Caitlin Clark 1, Lexie Callahan 1.

(PV stats)
KILLS – Leah Patterson 14, Lily Henry 8, Mattie Glass 5, Rylee Haynes 4, Tori Turner 2.
ACES – Leah Patterson 3, Lily Henry 2, Mattie Glass 1, Allie Bryant 2, Rylee Haynes 3, Maddie Schwabe 2.
DIGS – Leah Patterson 7, Lily Henry 3, Mattie Glass 8, Allie Bryant 11, Rylee Haynes 9, Madison Borders 1, Maddie Schwabe 2, Tori Turner 3.
BLOCKS – Leah Patterson 2, Rylee Haynes 1, Tori Turner 6.
ASSISTS – Allie Bryant 2, Rylee Haynes 24.

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