E.A. Sports Today

Into the finals

Ohatchee earns third trip to Calhoun County Volleyball Tournament finals in school history, first since 2009, plays traditional finalist Alexandria for title Monday at JSU

Ohatchee coach Rebecca Hughes leads the celebration after the Lady Indians clinched a spot in the county volleyball tournament title match.

Lower Bracket Matches
Weaver 3, Saks 0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-16)
Piedmont 3, Weaver 1 (25-7, 25-11, 22-25, 25-17)
Wellborn 3, White Plains 0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-13)
Ohatchee 3, Piedmont 0 (25-11, 25-12, 25-9)
Wellborn 3, Donoho 2 (25-16, 21-25, 25-15, 22-25, 15-13)
Ohatchee 3, Wellborn 0 (25-12, 25-20, 25-16)
Championship Match
At Jacksonville State, Monday
Ohatchee vs. Alexandria, 7 p.m.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The players on the Ohatchee volleyball team were in the huddle between the second and third sets of their semifinal match when they posed a question to coach Rebecca Hughes.

There was still work to be done, but the Lady Indians could sense what was about to happen and wanted to know if their coach had ever been in the championship match of the Calhoun County Volleyball Tournament before.

As coaches always will, Hughes quickly reminded them they still had work to do, then after a pause for effect she answered their question. “No.”

Actually, no one in the huddle has. This group of Lady Indians, coaches and players alike, are headed to the county tournament finals for the first time after sweeping surprise semifinalist Wellborn, 25-12, 25-20, 25-16, in their half of the final four.

“I knew from the start this was the group to do it,” Hughes said. “We believed in these girls from Day One and they’ve clawed their way and worked their way into this every year up until this year.

“We’ve been close, one game away, for the last two years, but we have never punched that ticket to the finals. All week it felt kind of special like we’ve got a chance to do this if we come out and play our ballgame. Make it happen.”

The third-seeded Lady Indians (36-8) will play Alexandria for the title Monday at Jacksonville State. The top-seeded Lady Cubs made it through with a 25-23, 25-19, 25-15 semifinal sweep of Pleasant Valley after being taken to five intense sets by Oxford in their tournament opener.

For Alexandria it’s the sixth year in a row it will be playing in the tournament finals. For Ohatchee, it’s only the third time in school history and first since 2009.

“I guess we’re going to make history,” Ohatchee ace Jorda Crook said. “I think we’ve been talking about this, things we need to accomplish, and the county is one of them. Winning county, winning area, winning regionals and state. This is great. We played good today and I expect us to play good like that Monday.”

Most of the Lady Indians were either 4 or 5 the last time the school played for the county title. Hughes was about that age when they went for the first time in 1998.

But those teams in between didn’t have a player as dynamic as Crook. The powerful senior had 21 kills in each of Ohatchee’s two tournament victories. Before taking down Wellborn, the Lady Indians swept Piedmont, 25-11, 25-12, 25-9.

“I knew coming into this season that, with Jorda on our side of the court especially, we were going to go somewhere,” senior setter Hannah Fitch said. “I knew coming into the season it would be something special and we would make history.”

Wellborn made some county tournament history as well, reaching the Final Four for the first time in recent memory. The Lady Panthers made it into the semifinals with a stunning five-set win over No. 2 seed Donoho, and Hughes admitted she was concerned with the momentum the host team was carrying into the match.

The Lady Panthers (22-11) rallied from the brink of elimination to win the fourth set and then from double match point to take the fifth 15-13. Calla Hayes had 20 kills in the match, Anna Odom (12) and Samaura Thomas (10) were in double figures and Gracie Lewis delivered 45 assists.

“It really was a good day,” Wellborn coach Brenda Vinson said. “This team is growing and starting to build confidence and understanding that they can compete and they can compete at the high level.

“I think we raised the bar today. We’re climbing the stairs to the level (of the county’s top teams) and that’s what it’s about. We’ve won our (three-team) area, we’re going to host the tournament, so when we get to (regionals in) Montgomery the goal is to get through that Thursday and I think today definitely puts us moving in the direction to get there to do that.”

Lower Bracket Stats

Ellie Carden18
Alanah Fitch934715
Gracyn Snow828
Jorda Crook422186
Hannah Fitch330115
Rebecca Henderson112151
Brett Finn411
Anna Odom221119
Annalee Rinehard1715
Calla Hayes353
Chloe Screws1 73
Delana Stephens18
Gracie Lewis48468
Kevianna Crumb151
Kyra Tirban34
Samara Thomas15115
Brooklyn Singleton2
Lily Grace Draper151181
Ansley Simmons581
Estella Connell1474
Ryals Jones512
Mary Marshall Perry10454
Sam Wakefield537620
Sarah Waggoner1117
Hannah Sprayberry17
Kate Williamon6
Blair Kitchen5
Ta’Leaha Ridley185
Jaycee Glover43921
Jenna Calvert642
Emma Grace Todd821
Armoni Perry112
Abby Baird1
Cayla Brothers15

You must be logged in to post a comment Login