Norris sets dig record, but Sand Rock falls to Ider
HUNTSVILLE – Sand Rock’s Paige Norris set a school record for digs in a volleyball season, but her effort wasn’t enough for the Lady Wildcats in their season-ending loss to Ider in the Class 2A North Regional in Huntsville on Friday. Sand Rock lost in four games 25-23, 22-25, 15-25 and 21-25 to finish the season at 36-9.
Norris posted 37 digs in the loss and finished with 653 digs this season, surpassing the old mark of 619 digs by Lauren Bell. Savannah Blackwell contributed 28 digs, 19 kills and two aces. August Gilliland added 18 digs and 15 kills. Erin Langley managed 26 assists and 13 digs. Haylie Pruitt had 20 digs, 12 kills and three blocks. Audrey Richardson finished with 17 assists and 14 digs.
“I am disappointed with how we finished. We could have and should have gone further,” Sand Rock coach Lisa Bates said. “We played passively and did not mentally push through today when the pressure was on. I am sad for Audrey (Sand Rock’s only senior) because she played hard and really wanted to go further.”
In other area Class 2A North Regional action on Friday, Collinsville fell to Fyffe in three games. The scores were 25-22, 25-11 and 25-20.
Spring Garden, Cedar Bluff fall short
HUNTSVILLE – Spring Garden volleyball coach Ben Carroll has seen his young Lady Panther team take strides the past couple of weeks.
On Oct. 17, they played a knockdown, drag out of a match for the Class 1A, Area 14 tournament championship at Cedar Bluff, winning in five sets to clinch their fourth straight area championship. The win – Spring Garden’s eighth in the past two weeks – secured a spot in the North Regional in Huntsville at the Von Braun Center against Sacred Heart on Thursday morning.
Just like their area championship match, the Lady Panthers found themselves in another close battle with Sacred Heart on Thursday. They lost the first game 25-12, then rallied for a 26-24 victory in game two. Sacred Heart came back with a 25-20 win in the third game, but Spring Garden captured a 25-15 win in game four to force a fifth and deciding game.
The Lady Panthers built a 10-3 lead in the fifth game, but Sacred Heart rallied for a 16-14 win to advance, ending Spring Garden’s season at 14-35.
“It was similar to the match we had against Cedar Bluff on Monday,” Spring Garden coach Ben Carroll said. “We knew it was going to be a battle against Sacred Heart. We knew it was going to be tough, but we just couldn’t finish. Rachel (Morris) had rotated to the back row, and we could never get her back up to the front.”
As Carroll mentioned, Morris was the Lady Panthers’ go-to player on Thursday. She finished with 30 kills, 15 digs and three blocks.
AJ Broome added 19 digs, 17 assists and three kills. Haleigh Molock managed 24 digs and a pair of aces. Kristin Tierce tallied 18 assists and 13 digs. Macy Reedy had 14 digs. Kenley Gowens contributed nine digs and two aces. Brea Bailey finished with seven digs and three kills.
“We had been playing our best volleyball all year at the end. What happens from here is how they react,” Carroll said. “We had a lot of young ones this year. Rachel and AJ were the only ones with experience on this stage. I’m proud of them. We won eight matches in the last two weeks, and we kind of got better. They finished well. They grew and matured, and as a coach, that’s all you can ask.”
Cedar Bluff also suffered heartbreak on Thursday morning, los- ing in four games to Donoho 17-25, 25-21, 9-25 and 14-25. The Lady Tigers’ season ends at 21-23.
“Donoho’s a real good team,” firstyear Cedar Bluff coach Deidra Davis said. “We knew going in it was going to be tough. I was proud of how our girls came out. A lot of them took the loss to Spring Garden to heart and they played with some fire in their eyes. We did some good things, but we didn’t finish some things. This should give us something to build on for next year.”
Abby McBurnett led the Lady Tigers with 10 kills. She also posted three digs. Kiana Dobbins added six digs, four kills and two aces. Laura Ann Hughes had 17 assists and six digs. Hannah Cosby contributed five blocks, three kills and three digs. Kyla O’Neal and Brooklyn Willbanks came away with four digs and three digs respectively. Matison Bedwell and Ashley Goodwin finished with a pair of kills apiece.
“I’m extremely proud of their work ethic,” Davis said. “They’ve worked hard and stayed extra (time). They’ve really showed a lot about themselves.
“This has been a great learning experience for me and the girls. It’s something we can build on for years to come.”