E.A. Sports Today

State volleyball

Pleasant Valley reaches Class 2A final for second year in a row, one victory away from giving retiring head coach a championship.

Cover photo: Pleasant Valley’s Lily Henry hits against Washington County during the AHSAA Class 2A semifinals Tuesday at Birmingham CrossPlex. (Photo by Joe Medley)

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

BIRMINGHAM — Pleasant Valley made it back to the Class 2A state volleyball final Tuesday, and the Raiders would like everyone to know they’ve done all they can to fight off seasonal bugs before the season’s biggest match.

“We made sure to take zinc, elderberry, Vitamin C, all the vitamins,” senior setter Maddie Schwabe said.

Outside of fluid on one of libero Madi Hay’s knees, Pleasant Valley will play Sand Rock in Wednesday’s 4:30 p.m. state final healthy. That alone makes the Raiders’ lot going into the final better than it was a year ago.

Pleasant Valley reached the final this time by beating Wicksburg 23-25, 25-9, 25-6, 25-17 then Washington County 25-16, 25-16, 25-10 on Tuesday.

A year after the flu-stricken Raiders lost to area rival Donoho in the final, they’ll try it in reasonably good health.

“We’ve been careful not to drink after each other,” senior hitter Lily Henry said. “We’ve been extra careful. We don’t need that to happen again.”

The Raiders, winners of 19 matches in a row, also have extra motivation. They can win 18th-year head coach Dana Bryant a state championship in her final match.

Bryant announced in August plans to retire after this school year. This is her last season, which so far includes her second Calhoun County title.

Pleasant Valley has five state titles, the last coming in 1997. It doesn’t hurt that a veteran team experienced this a year ago.

“They’ve been here before, they know what it takes, and they’re well to do it,” Bryant said.

Pleasant Valley got going Tuesday after losing its first set to Wicksburg.

“These girls had a rough start to the day with Wicksburg, but they came out in Game 2, playing like they should’ve played all day,” Bryant said. “They came out ready to play. They had energy. They were excited.

“They did very well a reading and being very strategic in what they were doing.”

Alexandria’s Eryn Spradley hits against Arab in Tuesday’s Class 5A semifinals at Birmingham CrossPlex. (Photo by Joe Medley)


The Valley Cubs opened the day by sweeping Rehobeth then lost a five-set heartbreaker to Arab in the semifinals.

Alexandria led the 2-1 through three sets and had a 10-5 lead in the fifth before Arab came back to push it past 15 point. The Valley Cubs had four consecutive points before Arab scored the last three.

“We had our chances,” Alexandria coach Whitney Welch said. “I don’t know how many times we had game point. That was just one of those matches where, if they had the lead, we came back, and if we had the lead, they came back.

“I thought it could’ve gone either way, for sure, and we just didn’t finish.”

Alexandria finished the season with a school-record 53 wins and won the North Super Regional for the first time ever.

“I’m so proud of them,” Welch said. “This is one of the best years that me and (assistant coach) Kelli (Johnson) have ever had just as far as the team being like they were. It was a great experience, great team. You could tell they love each other.

“I thought we’d be playing tomorrow.”

Match stats

Bayside Academy 3, Oxford 0
: Oxford returned to the Elite Eight after making for the first time since 2016 in 2022 and fell in the quarterfinals, 22-25, 13-25, 19-25. Top performers for Oxford:

Jamea Gaston: 20 digs.
Arilyn Pool: 20 digs.
Payton Brooks: 24 assists.
Ava Thomas: 11 kills.
Mileah Prince: eight kills.

Alexandria 3, Rehobeth 0:
The Valley Cubs won 25-8, 25-13, 25-10 and advanced to a 4 p.m. semifinal against Arab. Top performers for Alexandria:

Kailey Dickerson: 13 kills, one block, two digs.
Eryn Spradley: eight kills, one block, two digs.
Devan White: 12 digs, four assists.
Christian Hess: three digs, 11 assists.
Cassidy Hartsfield: four kills, two blocks.

Arab 3, Alexandria 2: Alexandria has four match points in the fifth set, falls 17-25, 25-21, 25-22, 23-25, 17-19. Arab will play Montgomery Academy in Wednesday’s 12:30 p.m. state final. Alexandria finishes with a school-record 53 wins. The Valley Cubs’ top performers:

Dickerson: 18 kills, 18 digs, one ace.
Spradley: 24 kills, four digs, two blocks, two aces.
Hartsfield: 11 kills, one dig, one block.
White: two assists, 18 digs, three aces.
Hess: 34 assists, seven digs.
Sophie Martin: one kill, 23 assists, one dig.

Plainview 3, Wellborn 0:
Wellborn’s first state-tournament appearance since 2004 ended in the quarterfinals, 4-25, 10-25, 7-25. Top performers for Wellborn:

Gracie Lewis: 12 assists.
Calla Hayes: four kills.
Anna Odom: five kills.
Annalee Rinehart: four digs.
Diana Rodriguez: five digs.

Mobile Christian 3, Glencoe 0: Glencoe’s state-tourney run ended in the quarterfinals. Top performers for the Yellow Jackets:

Kaelyn Hollis: 17 digs, one assist.
Emma Cloy: three kills, five digs.
Abi Bunt: one block, nine digs, six assists.
Evelyn Nowak: five kills, one block.
Alli Jo Amos: four kills, two blocks.

Pleasant Valley 3, Wicksburg 1:
The Raiders won 23-25, 25-9, 25-6, 25-17 to extend their winning streak to 18 matches. They will play Washington County in a 6 p.m. semifinal. Top performers for Pleasant Valley:

Lily Henry: 18 kills, six digs, four aces.
Allie Bryant: eight kills, nine digs, three aces.
Maddie Schwabe: three kills, five blocks, eight digs, 33 digs, two aces.
Madi Hay: four digs, three aces.

Pleasant Valley 3, Washington County 0: PV wins 25-16, 25-16, 25-10, will play the G.W. Long-Sand Rock winner in Wednesday’s 4:30 p.m. state final.

Henry: 18 kills, one block, 15 digs.
Schwabe: four kills, one block, three digs, 33 assists, three aces.
Bryant: six kills, 10 digs, five aces.
Hay: five digs, two aces.
Madison Schwabe: four kills, 13 digs, one ace.
Ella Parris: three kills, five blocks, two digs.
Ellie Patterson: three kills.
Janette Turner: one dig.

G.W. Long 3, Donoho 1: The Falcons, state champions in three of the past four years with a runner-up finish, fell in the quarterfinals. Top performers for Donoho:

Sam Wakefield: 11 kills, 19 blocks, one assist, two aces.
Callie Taylor: two blocks, seven digs, 41 assists, two aces.
Ryals Jones: 12 kills, four blocks, one dig.
Estella Connell: 14 kills, two blocks, one ace.
Kate Williamon: 10 kills, 16 digs, two aces.

State volleyball pairings

Tuesday, 1:30 p.m.
Bayside Academy def. Oxford, 3-0
Tuesday, 10:30 a.m.
Alexandria def. Rehobeth, 3-0
Arab def. Alexandria, 3-2 (Semifinals)
Wednesday, 9 a.m.
Cherokee County vs. UMS Wright
Tuesday, 9 a.m.
Mobile Christian def. Glencoe, 3-0
Plainview def. Wellborn, 3-0
Tuesday, noon
Pleasant Valley def. Wicksburg, 3-1
Pleasant Valley def. Washington County, 3-0 (Semifinals)
G.W. Long def. Donoho, 3-1
Pleasant Valley vs. Sand Rock, 4:30 p.m. (Championship)
Wednesday, noon
Faith Christian vs. Spring Garden

With Pleasant Valley’s team watching behind the net, Alexandria and head coach Whitney Welch huddle before their Class 5A semifinal match with Arab. (Photo by Joe Medley)

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