E.A. Sports Today

Back in the finals

Alexandria challenged twice but perseveres, reaches Calhoun County Volleyball Tournament finals for sixth straight year, plays Ohatchee Monday

Upper Bracket Matches
Jacksonville Christian 3, Anniston 0 (25-20, 25-11, 25-18)
Oxford 3, Faith Christian 0 (25-9, 25-10, 25-17)
Jacksonville 3, Jacksonville Christian 0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-15)
Alexandria 3, Oxford 2 (25-11, 26-28, 25-22, 25-27, 18-16)
Pleasant Valley 3, Jacksonville 2 (20-25, 25-21, 27-17, 13-25, 18-16)
Alexandria 3, Pleasant Valley 0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-15)
Championship Match
At Jacksonville State, Monday
Alexandria vs. Ohatchee, 7 p.m.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The team that wins the Calhoun County Volleyball Tournament title Monday night will be the one that plays with the most confidence and does the best handling adversity.

Alexandria had plenty of both Saturday as it punched its ticket into another county tournament final.

The Lady Cubs survived an intense five-set test with under-seeded Oxford and then swept Pleasant Valley 3-0 to earn their sixth straight trip to the championship match, where this time they’ll play upstart Ohatchee making its third appearance in the final in school history and first since 2009.

Alexandria has taken home the trophy three of the last five times it has been in the final and seven times overall. Ohatchee, this year’s No. 3 seed, has never won the county volleyball crown, although a large part of its team were County Junior High champions.

“I’m excited,” Lady Cubs coach and new mom Whitney Welch said. “I didn’t think we played great against Oxford, but I also think Oxford is probably not the (eighth) seed and they definitely didn’t play like it and they gave us a great game.

“I’m proud of our girls for working through that. We talk a lot about how we’re going to have to face adversity. I’ve watched a lot of teams this season, not just in our county. There’s a lot of up and downs all around, so if you can be tough and get yourself through those times and make yourself a little more consistent than the other team than you’ve got a good shot at winning.”

Eighth-seeded Oxford gave Alexandria all it could handle in its tournament opener. The top-seeded Lady Cubs won the first set easily (25-11), then held on for dear life. Oxford won the second and fourth sets in extra points and the tiebreaker was an 18-16 nailbiter.

“We’ve done that a lot this year,” Welch said. “As much as we shoot ourselves in the foot we’ll bounce back, so I feel like our kids know they can win and they feel like they can win and they never feel like they’re out of it. I don’t feel like that either, I just wish we would play more consistently.”

“We didn’t reach our full potential today but we did enough to get it done and we’re all excited to be in the finals,” junior hitter Kailey Dickerson said. “We had too many things that kept happening over and over again, but if we fix those and become more consistent with those type of things I think we can pull it off Monday.”

But beating Oxford, sophomore hitter Eryn Spradley said, gave the Lady Cubs the “energy” they needed to get through Pleasant Valley. 

The Lady Cubs looked in trouble in the first set against the Lady Raiders, too. PV opened leads of 18-10 and 22-17 in the first set, but the match turned when it looked like a point that would have given the Lady Raiders a 24-22 lead glanced off the head of a PV players before going out of bounds.

Dickerson appealed, the officials couldn’t reach a consensus, they replayed the point at 23-22 and the Lady Cubs won the last three points to win the set. They won the next two sets 25-19, 25-15.

“I think that was critical,” Welch said of the do-over.

“As we like to say, ‘the ball doesn’t lie,’” Spradley said. “So when we got the point we all said on the bench, ‘the ball doesn’t lie.’”

The Lady Cubs’ bigs played a big role in the victories. Dickerson had 39 kills and four blocks in the two matches, Spradley had 22 kills and four blocks, and Brie Troup had 18 kills. Christian Hess dealt 74 assists and Devan White had 34 digs.

All three hitters had double-digit kills in the Oxford match. Spradley had 27, Troup 12 and Spradley 11. Hess had 46 assists and 12 digs, White had 23 digs and Ava Johnson had 10.

The championship match portends to be a Battle of the Bigs between Alexandria’s Big Three and Ohatchee’s Jorda Crook. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think the tournament MVP will come out of this group.

“Obviously she’s a great player,” Welch said. “It’s going to be important for us to make sure we attack them at all possible and serve it really well so they can’t get the ball to her as much as they would like. That’s what we need to do. We’re going to try to stop her as much as we can and keep the ball away from her as much as we can.”

Lady Cubs’ finals run

Alexandria will be playing in the Calhoun County Volleyball Tournament for the 21st time and sixth in a row. Here is a look at the Lady Cubs’ finals history during the current streak

2017Pleasant ValleyL, 3-2
2018Faith ChristianW, 3-1
2019JacksonvilleW, 3-1
2020JacksonvilleL, 3-2
2021DonohoW, 3-1

Upper Bracket Stats

Kailey Dickerson391894
Brie Troup18311
Eryn Spradley2244
Christian Hess74116
Devan White3434
Ava Johnson32231
Brenlee Sparks210
Lauren Weber21
Cassidy Hartsfield21
Kirsten Heathcock111
Madison Foster112
Lily Henry222263
Ella Parris51141
Allie Bryant291610261
Maddie Schwabe1048151
Madison Schwabe102222
Ellie Patterson6132
Madi Hay214
Jamea Gaston222
Payton Brooks62824
Ashlyn Burns324
Abbie Mitchell3023
Kaelyn Crossley319
Arilyn Pool18
Sadie Grace Morrison937
Daelyn Bozeman8
Mileah Prince187
Shay Montgomery105

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