E.A. Sports Today

Clinching time

Donoho, Alexandria, Munford, Ohatchee, Oxford clinch hosting rights for their area tournaments, Faith gets close and more

First-year Donoho coach Anna Taylor encourages her team during its match with Pleasant Valley. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

Pleasant Valley, Spring Garden at Donoho
Donoho 3, Pleasant Valley 0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-22)
Pleasant Valley 2, Spring Garden 0 (25-16, 25-13)
Donoho 2, Spring Garden 0 (25-18, 25-20)

Oxford, Gaylesville at Gadsden City
Oxford 3, Gadsden City 0 (25-13, 25-18, 25-15)
Oxford 2, Gaylesville 0 (25-22, 25-7)

Westbrook Christian at Sardis
Westbrook 2, Crossville 0 (25-2, 25-7)
Sardis 2, Westbrook 0 (25-19, 25-18)

Alexandria 3, Lincoln 0 (25-14, 25-15, 25-5)
Faith Christian 3, Talladega Co. Central 0
Ohatchee 3, Weaver 0 (25-11, 25-7, 25-9)
Munford 3, Handley 0 *25-17, 25-23, 25-22)
Piedmont, Hokes Bluff at Glencoe

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Donoho moved up from Class 1A, Pleasant Valley moved down from 3A and they met in the middle Tuesday night to determine their 2A area championship.

The Lady Falcons won the Area 10 title and the right to host their area tournament with a 25-17, 25-18, 25-22 win over the Lady Raiders. Both teams beat Spring Garden in their second matches of the night.

Estella Connell’s play in the middle was one of the keys to Donoho’s victory. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

Donoho, a dominant program in Class 1A, was elevated to 2A by the AHSAA’s competitive balance formula for private schools. PV dropped down in classification due to declining attendance. Both brought their usual high standard of play to the match.

“I think we were very focused and confident that we would be to perform,” first-year Donoho coach Anna Taylor said. “We saw this as a new challenge and we put forth our steps about how we were going to do it and I think we stuck with that and were achieving that. That’s really good for the girls to have that focus and determination that they weren’t going to be disrupted by the change. I think they reacted to that very well.

“Dealing with the unknowns and the new obstacles were definitely very much in my forefront and something that was part of a plan from Day One. They had to buy into me as the new coach, they had to buy into the new players, they had to buy into a new area. You slowly start chipping away and you start seeing how these things all mesh and work together and we started gaining that momentum.”

A Donoho win Tuesday would give the Lady Falcons the area title outright. A PV win would have sent the race into a series of tiebreakers designed to avoid a coin toss.

As it turned out, Donoho won it outright. Elevated play from their middles made all the difference to the Lady Falcons. Estella Connell had seven kills and a block in the match. Ryals Jones had two kills and three blocks and libero Sarah Waggoner had 10 digs. Sam Wakefield had 20 assists and seven digs playing with a sore wrist.

“That team is very fast, so it’s pretty tough to play them because they’re always running something very good in the middle and you have to be aware,” Connell said. “We’ve been working a lot on blocking and getting our feet ready to move. Me and Ryals have been working on that and we’ve been doing pretty good with that all week. We had a really good practice yesterday and we just translated all that in the game today.”

Lily Grace Draper11220
Ansley Simmons54
Estella Connell1414
Ryals Jones223
Mary Marshall Perry7343
Sam Wakefield22017
Sarah Waggoner114
Hannah Sprayberry14
Kate Williamon15
Blair Kitchell1
Callee Taylor1717

Alexandria clinches

LINCOLN — Whitney Welch returned to the Alexandria bench for the first time since the birth of her son and the Lady Cubs rewarded her with a straight-set victory that clinched the Class 5A Area 12 regular-season championship.

The Lady Cubs swept Lincoln 25-14, 25-15, 25-5, and will host the area tournament Oct. 12. Kailey Dickerson and Eryn Spradley led the offense with 14 kills between them. Dickerson also had five aces, Devan White had six digs and Christian Hess distributed 18 assists.

“I was just excited to be back,” Welch said. “I know it’s only been two weeks, but I was thinking about them the whole time. Even though I was with the baby, too, I was thinking about them and missed them.

“I got to see them yesterday at practice. Coming into today and them clinching the area was nice, of course, but I was just excited to see their faces. They looked like they were having fun tonight. We actually kind of got better as we went, which is sort of the opposite of what we’ve been doing. We kind of started slow but then we finished really strong. We’ve been looking forward to finishing games, so hopefully starting in October we can start to do that.”

Welch delivered her third child, Louie River, Sept. 12 and left the team with assistants Kelli Johnson and Toni Hess. The Lady Cubs (34-12) went 11-4 and were installed as the No. 1 seed in this weekend’s Calhoun County Tournament during her absence.

“They did well,” Welch said. “There are some matches we would like to get back, that we hope we get another shot at. I’m kind of excited about hopefully being able to do that.

“I’m so thankful for our assistants, especially Kelli because she kind of carried them for me on her own. She definitely did an incredible job with them while I was gone. I knew she would.”

Baby Louie wasn’t at the match Tuesday night. He’ll probably make his debut this weekend at the County Tournament at Wellborn.

Kailey Dickerson8531
Brie Troup211
Eryn Spradley61
Christian Hess218111
Pressley Slaton122
Devan White126
Ava Johnson2131
Kirsten Heathcock11
Brenlee Sparks11
Lauren Weber21
Madison Foster21
Clancy Bright141
Cassidy Hartsfield21

Oxford hosts

GADSDEN Abbie Mitchell had 18 kills, Mileah Prince 12 and Jaslyn Montgomery 11 and Payton Brooks dished 47 assists to help Oxford lock down Class 6A Area 13 area tournament hosting rights with a 3-0 sweep of Gadsden City and then a 2-0 sweep of Gaylesville.

Jamea Gaston10
Payton Brooks476
Ashlyn Burns9
Abbie Mitchell18
Kaelyn Crossley7
Arilyn Pool5
Adajiah Wilson22
Sadie Grace Morrison3
Daelyn Bozeman8
Mileah Prince12
Jaslyn Montgomery11

Ohatchee clinches

OHATCHEE The Lady Indians clinched their 3A Area 10 title with a 25-11, 25-7, 25-9 victory over Weaver.

Jorda Crook15353
Alanah Fitch6558
Hannah Fitch2144
Rebecca Henderson25
Ellie Carden13

Faith getting close

Faith Christian moved within one victory of claiming the Class 1A Area 8 title with a 3-0 win over Talladega County Central. The Lady Lions host Wadley Thursday night in a match that will determine who hosts the area tournament. It’s the first time since their 2018 state tournament team the Lady Lions have been this close to hosting their area tournament.

Ally Folsom55
Cheyenne Rice34
Faith McDade295
Gabrielle Price322
Hannah Hubbard151
Kayson Cronan26
Anna Kate Robertson13
Kelsey Brown1
Sarah Katz1

Munford clinches on Senior Night

MUNFORD — The Lady Lions clinched their regular-season area title on Senior Night with a 25-17, 25-23, 25-22 sweep of Handley. Senior Blair Darby led the way with 11 kills and eight digs. Classmate Kyleigh Hurst had 24 assists, Anijah Gladden had seven kills and Teriaunna Davis had three kills.

Kyleigh Hurst12447
Anijah Gladden 417
Ashtyn Bishop37
Ellie Jones834
Blair Darby118
Kaylyn Turner51
Mylie Stephens1
Teriaunna Davis31

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