E.A. Sports Today

On to finals – again

Donoho making third straight trip to Class 1A title match after sweeping Lindsay Lane in semifinals; Lady Falcons have plenty of motivation this time

First Round
Bayshore Christian 3, Marion County 1 (23-25, 25-15, 25-17, 25-12)
Woodland 3, Ragland 1 (25-21, 25-20, 13-25, 25-15)
Donoho 3, Kinston 0 (25-8, 25-11, 25-12)
Lindsay Lane 3, Sweet Water 1 (25-17, 25-16, 24-26, 25-11)
Bayshore Christian 3, Woodland 0 (27-25, 25-14, 25-18)
Donoho 3, Lindsay Lane 0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-16)
Thursday, 10 a.m.
Bill Harris Arena
Bayshore Christian (24-24) vs. Donoho (54-9)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

BIRMINGHAM – Donoho senior Maggie Wakefield has been waiting a whole year for the chance to have a rematch with Bayshore Christian for the Class 1A state volleyball championship.

She’s going to get it after her Lady Falcons earned their third straight trip to the state finals with a 3-0 sweep of Lindsay Lane (25-15, 25-16, 25-26) in the semifinals Wednesday afternoon at the Birmingham Crossplex.

In a matchup that was as preordained as any in sports, the Lady Falcons and Bayshore Christian will play at 10 a.m. Thursday next door at the Bill Harris Arena.

It’s not so much the 3-1 loss to the Lady Eagles in last year’s final that has Wakefield and the Lady Falcons fired up as much as it was what they had to say about them after the match.

“You can write that confidently,” Wakefield said after the Lady Falcons dispatched Lindsay Lane for the second time in a week. “Last year they put an infamous quote in their interview with the AHSAA that said ‘we weren’t really worried about Donoho, they weren’t as fundamentally sound as us.’

“When we figured that out, it just lit a fire this summer for us to get working and get better. Our work isn’t done. Seeing them over there (on an adjacent court in the other semifinal) all of us just want a rematch. We want a do-over because we’re ready this time.”

For the record, Bayshore’s tournament MVP Cassidy Granger was quoted as saying “I knew, coming into this, that we were going to do well. Fundamentally, we’re better than them. Just plain and simple.” Perhaps she was just summarizing coach David Omtvedt’s comment — “I knew fundamentally we were a stronger team,” he said — but the shot was fired and the message was conveyed.

And it resonated with the Lady Falcons all year. Whenever coach Jamie Clendenin wanted to get his team’s attention, he pulled the quote out of the archives. It’s a wonder they didn’t put it on the white motivational T-shirts they made before the trip here.

“That’s been our quote the entire year,” junior right side hitter Mary Marshall Perry said. “Every time we would get down or appeared to be tired, (Clendenin) would say that quote: ‘We weren’t fundamentally sound enough.’ I think that really pushed us harder in the summer, definitely.”

The Lady Falcons (54-9) were fundamentally sound in both of their matches Wednesday. Against the Lady Lions in the semifinals, they jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first set and an 11-3 lead in the second. The third set was a little closer, but they pulled away from a 13-11 game with four straight points and never led by less than five the rest of the match.

Lily Grace Draper led the Lady Falcons for the second match in the row with 16 kills; she has 107 kills in her last seven Elite Eight matches. Perry had five kills and parts of 10 blocks. Wakefield had pieces of eight blocks, her sister Sam had 27 assists and nine digs. Estella Connell had five kills and pieces of 10 blocks.

“This was a really important game for us, so I we aauthomataically had lot more energy and drive for it,” libero Naira Rehman said. “This was the game whether we got to the final or not, so we really focused on this game and did the best we could.”

In their two previous trips to the finals, the Lady Falcons beat Westminster-Oak Mountain 3-2 for the title in 2019 and lost in the finals to Bayshore last year. Eight of the players on this year’s roster will have been a part of all three trips.

“I told them they did something special (today),” Clendenin said. “They listened to the game plan; they did a phenomenal job. They’re in the finals three years in a row, that’s a big accomplishment.

“No matter how good of a team we are, you still have to play that game to your ability. That was huge for the girls to be able to get that under their belt. Now, we’ve got one game left.

“You don’t just make it there by accident. It’s all the hard work, the insanity workouts we did in the summer. These girls have sacrificed a ton of their time to put into volleyball and it’s showing. it’s a beautiful thing when you get to see them out there doing what they do best.”

Bayshore (24-24) reached the final by knocking off Woodland in their semifinal, 3-0 after rallying from 21-16 down to win a tight first set (27-25).

Ashlyn Whiteside led the defending state champs with 19 kills, four digs, three assists and two aces. Brooke Kearney dished out 20 assists to go with three digs and Brooke Raimo had 22 digs. Molly Parker added seven kills, and Molly Brown had four blocks.

McKenzie McCormick delivered 10 kills, four blocks and three digs for Woodland (25-12). Juliana Lovvorn added seven kills and three blocks, Leah Williamson had 20 digs and five kills, and Taylor Wilson had 14 digs. 


Addison 3, Orange Beach 0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-18)
Mountain Brook 3, St. Paul’s Episcopal 0 (25-17, 27-25, 25-19)
Bayside Academy 3, East Limestone 0 (25-13, 25-13), 25-9)
Trinity Presbyterian 3, Montgomery Catholic 1 (28-26, 17-25, 25-10, 25-22)
Bayshore Christian (24-24) vs. Donoho (54-9), 10 a.m.
Montgomery Academy (27-15) vs. Westminster Christian (40-9), 2 p.m.
McGill-Toolen (39-11) vs. Spain Park (46-4), noon

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