Calhoun outlasts rival Lady Phoenix in competitive contest
Calhoun and Sonoraville met on the court for the second time this season in a hard-fought, competitive match that took three sets to decide. And judging by the level of play of both teams, it probably will not be the last time they see each other this season. The next time could be in the semifinals or finals of the area tournament.
The rivals capped off a tri-match on Tuesday with the final match of the night, and they delivered a back-and-forth contest that finished up with the Lady Jackets winning the third set to take the match and finish off a regular-season sweep of Sonoraville. Calhoun (25-12, 6-1 in Area 1-AAA) gained the upper hand with a 25-20 advantage in the first set, but Sonoraville bounced right back to dominate the second set for a 25-16 win. The decisive third set was forced, and each team made runs at each other before the Lady Jackets held off their rival for a 25-19 match-clinching set victory.
Calhoun coach Randy Rice said the victory was a lot like many they have had throughout the season and Sonoraville had a lot to do with that.
“That’s pretty much been the script for us all season...We’ll play well in one set and then we’ll get a little too confident or cocky and lose the next set,” said Rice. “But I’ve said it many times this year, we’re still learning how to win. Sometimes we get a little cocky and have to lose a set to get refocused. But you have to credit Sonoraville too. They have some great players and are wellcoached. We won both matches against them in the regular season, but we haven’t proven anything yet. They are still the champion so we’ve got to beat them in the tournament to change that. I’ve told my girls it’s hard to beat a team twice, and it’s even harder to beat a team three times. We’ve just got to focus and get ready for next week. We’ll get a chance to rest a little and then get ready to go for the area tournament.”
The Lady Jackets opened the tri-match with a similar win over Ringgold as they won the first set 26-24, dropped the second set to the Lady Tigers 25-17 and then rebounded to clinch the match with a 25-21 advantage in the third set.
Sophie Stewart had 18 kills to lead the stats for Calhoun on the night to go along with her two digs and two aces. Ashlyn Brzozoski added 18 digs and two aces, Anna George had 11 kills, seven blocks and three digs, Emma Kate Smith contributed 11 digs, six kills, six aces and two blocks and Jenna Santori chipped in 10 digs and a kill. Also contributing to the stats were: Erin Davis with eight digs, five kills and two aces, Erin Kelly with seven aces, five blocks, three kills and two digs, Railey Greeson with eight digs and one ace, Ashton Ensley with six digs, Anna Hoblitzell with two digs and one kill and Callie Ledford with two aces and one dig.
Sonoraville ( 1421, 4-4) played their first match of the night against Ringgold as well and earned a win in two sets (25-19, 25-18). Kinsey Wilson had a big night at libero with a combined 19 digs, 11 kills and four aces to lead the way in the two matches. Alea Johnson added 28 assists and four digs, and Skylar Huskins had eight kills, six digs and five aces.
Also contributing to Sonoraville’s split for the night were: Anissa Hales with eight digs and two kills, Hannah Wehunt with five digs, two kills and a perfect 15-for15 serving effort, Bree Steely with five digs, three kills and three aces, Alexis Lincoln with four kills and three digs, Abby Chambers with three digs and two kills and Raleigh Hooper with three kills.
Sonoraville coach Trace Vaughn said his team continued to show their improvement over the past few weeks with a great match against Ringgold but seemed to slip into bad habits against Calhoun early in the final match.
“We’ve been focusing on serve and serve receive, and we really executed that against Ringgold,” said Vaughn. “We didn’t do a very good job of that against Calhoun. About 80 percent of our passes in the first set against Calhoun were too close to the net as well, and it’s hard to put the three phases together when you do that.
“I’m not sure what happened there, but we started to play a little tight again for some reason. We have gotten away from that a little the last couple weeks, but in one set, we got tight again and it definitely affected our play. We’re so young still, and there are a lot of nerves. We’ve just got to get more experience in those big matches and learn how to handle it better.”
Both teams have their eyes set on playing well in the Area 1-AAA Tournament, which is next Thursday and Saturday at Calhoun. The Lady Phoenix are looking to keep their streak of five straight area titles going. Vaughn said he thinks his team is going in the right direction.
“You always want to peak at the right time, but I guess inconsistency is our biggest fear,” said Vaughn. “We need to find a way to play our best in every single set if we want to be in it. I feel like we’re starting to play our best ball of the season lately so hopefully that will continue into the tournament.”
Rice said he believes some lessons learned last week in losses to Cartersville and Northwest Whitfield will bring his team back down to Earth a little and refocus them for the tournament.
“We got humbled last week, but if you’re ever going to be the best, you have to play the best,” said Rice. “We were ahead for much of the match against Cartersville, but we couldn’t finish it out. I’ve told the girls that we are a good team. We’ve just got to believe it and play to our potential. When we hit the ball and knock people off the net, we’re as good as anyone around. We know our serving will be there.”
The Lady Jackets also honored their lone senior on Tuesday as Davis was recognized during Senior Night festivities. Rice said it was special to get two wins for her on Senior Night because she has been a part of the program for a long time, even before she got to high school when she would come to practices with her cousin.
Sonoraville was on the road on Thursday at Model for a tri-match against the Lady Devils and Ringgold. ( For details on that match, see Wednesday’s Calhoun Times.) They will visit Cartersville on Monday for a tri-match along with Murray County. Cal- houn and Sonoraville will both open area tournament play on Thursday with the bracket yet to be finalized.
In other recent volleyball action:
Calhoun splits tri-match
The Lady Jackets visited Woodland on Wednesday for a trimatch against the Lady Wildcats and Haralson County and came away with a 1-1 night.
Calhoun (25-12, 6-2 Area 1-AAA) defeated Woodland in two sets but fell to Haralson County for an area loss in three sets. Anna George led the way with 15 kills, two blocks and one ace for the night, and Emma Kate Smith added seven digs, six aces, four kills and one block. Also contributing were Ashlyn Brzozoski with five digs and one ace, Jenna Santori with five digs, Callie Ledford with four kills, one dig and one ace, Ashton Ensley with four digs, Erin Kelly with three aces and two kills, Railey Greeson with three digs, Erin Davis with one dig, one ace and one kill, Anna Hoblitzell with one kills and Sophie Stewart with one ace.
The matches wrap up the regular season for Calhoun as they will now have a little more than a week off before the Area 1-AAA Tournament opens on Thursday at in their own gym.
Calhoun’s Anna Hoblitzell (2) sets a pass for teammate Emma Kate Smith as Sonoraville players get in position on the other side of the net.
Calhoun’s Anna George (left) goes up to attempt a block as Sonoraville’s Abby Chambers looks for a kill.