E.A. Sports Today

Senior sendoff

Donoho’s Senior Night sweep of Ranburne highlights Tuesday night’s volleyball action in and around Calhoun County

First-year Donoho coach Anna Taylor (L) stands with her five seniors (from left) Hannah Sprayberry, Lily Grace Draper, Ansley Simmons, Sarah Waggoner and Mary Marshall Perry. The longest tenured in the group have 191 wins. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

Donoho 3, Ranburne 0 (25-6, 25-6, 25-12)
Piedmont 3, White Plains 1
Pleasant Valley 3, Woodland 0 (25-21, 26-24, 25-19)

Faith Christian, Oxford at Wellborn
Oxford 2, Faith Christian 0 (25-7, 25-17)
Oxford 2, Wellborn 0 (25-19, 25-15)

Gaston, Ragland at Westbrook Christian
Westbrook 2, Gaston 0 (25-5, 25-15)
Westbrook 2, Ragland 0 (25-14, 25-18)

Glencoe, Spring Garden at Sand Rock
Weaver at Lincoln

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Ansley Simmons has helped pass out the roses to her teammates as part of Donoho volleyball’s Senior Night festivities the last couple years. It was her turn to get them Tuesday night and it was an experience as thrilling as she imagined.

The Lady Falcons recognized their five seniors – Simmons, Hannah Sprayberry, libero Sarah Waggoner, Mary Marshall Perry and Lily Grace Draper – prior to a 3-0 sweep of Ranburne that got them back on track after a disappointing loss in the Calhoun County Tournament quarterfinals.

In a matchup of opening-round opponents in the Class 2A Area 10 tournament Oct. 13, the Lady Falcons won 25-6, 25-6, 25-12. Pleasant Valley secured the 2-seed with a 3-0 sweep of Woodland.

“I have known them and worked closely with them since some of them were in the eighth grade, so I knew what a talented bunch they were,” Lady Falcons coach Anna Taylor said. “I’ve been along as a spectator for so much, so when I had the chance to take this position those five seniors were a big selling point because they were such a great talented group with so much potential and I was eager to get to work with them.

“They’ve sort of come through on all of that. It’s been great being with them even if it has been for just one year in this new role. I’m just honored and proud of them.”

Taylor’s first group of seniors has had a good run, one they hope is far from over. Over the last three years they have played for the state title three times, winning it twice.

Draper and Marshall are the longest-tenured seniors, having been pulled up to the varsity at the tail end of their seventh-grade years. Together, they have been part of 191 victories. Since adding a late quad-match on Monday, the earliest they can reach No. 200 is the second-round regional match that qualifies them to go to state.

“That’ll be meaningful, especially since it’s been us from the beginning, like our group and all the seniors have been there for most of it, especially me, LG and Mary Marshall,” said Waggoner, who joined the varsity at the end of her eighth-grade year. “And the seniors last year were a huge part of that. They were a great group of girls.”

The longest-standing seniors also are closing in on some career milestones. After Tuesday’s match, Draper has 1,935 kills, (most in Calhoun County according to AHSAA state records), 1,036 digs and 266 aces. Perry has 968 kills, 226 aces and 287 blocked shots.

Among the underclassmen, Estella Connell reached 499 career kills with four in the match and Sam Wakefield reached 1,999 assists with 18. Current Alexandria coach Whitney (Burt) Welch holds the county career assist record at 3,772. 

All five seniors reflected on their experiences in the program. Here are their thoughts:

HANNAH SPRAYBERRY: It’s been an amazing experience. We’re a good team, everybody is really positive and it’s like a family now because we’re all so close and we’re always talking outside of volleyball.

It was scary at first because I didn’t know if they would accept me and trust me on the court or not. At first they kind of didn’t because I’d get barely any playing time, but this year I feel like they’re very accepting of me and all the new players and the younger ones. It’s just been an amazing team to play with.

ANSLEY SIMMONS: I have been on the team for three years so I have watched two groups of seniors go through this night and go through their seasons. I came in after we had just won our first championship, so when I came in it was like, all right, we’re expected to be good, we’re expected to keep this going, and then we came up against a really good team and got runner-up. Yes we’re disappointed, but we still did good, and we went into the next year really pumped, really wanting to do good, really working hard and I think that really showed last year when we won again because we fought really hard to get there.

Tonight was just special because I’ve always been a part of giving the flowers and being with the seniors. It’s just fun to get one of your own and see the other side of it.

MARY MARSHALL PERRY: It’s just been really special. It’s just amazing to see how we grew as a team so quickly and it’s been so fun. I’m really sad to see it come to an end and hopefully we can take it as far as we did the last couple of years.

SARAH WAGGONER: We have put a lot of work in every summer. We’ve really put in the work and that’s really helped us with our success the last four years.

LILY GRACE DRAPER: It was really scary coming up to varsity at that young age and I never expected that everything that has happened throughout our career has happened. I’m really overwhelmed. I never expected all this to happen. We moved up to varsity and we definitely put in a lot of work to get to that point.

Donoho 3, Ranburne 0

Lily Grace Draper842
Ansley Simmons51222
Estella Connell41224
Ryals Jones21
Mary Marshall Perry611
Sam Wakefield18121
Sarah Waggoner25
Hannah Sprayberry2
Kate Williamon3
Blair Kitchen13
Callee Taylor4
Next: Oxford, Jacksonville at Donoho Thursday

Pleasant Valley 3, Woodland 0

Lily Henry14123
Ella Parris45
Allie Bryant123313
Maddie Schwabe330471
Madison Schwabe4218
Ellie Patterson51
Madi Hay5
Next: Pleasant Valley at Sand Rock Thursday

Oxford 2, Faith Christian 0
Oxford 2, Wellborn 0

Jamea Gaston15
Payton Brooks419
Ashlyn Burns11
Abbie Mitchell13
Kaelyn Crossley4
Arilyn Pool4
Sadie Grace Morrison23
Daelyn Bozeman9
Mileah Prince9
Jaslyn Montgomery93
Next: Oxford, Jacksonville at Donoho Thursday

Westbrook 2, Gaston 0
Westbrook 2, Ragland 0

Raylee Neal2406
Raegan Harrell1743
Taylor Meador56
Landri Lipscomb10
Marley Cox714
Ellison Stewart3
Next: Westbrook, West End, Ragland at Ashville Thursday

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