Spring Gar­den clinches fourth straight area ti­tle

Cherokee County Herald - - SPORTS -

CEDAR BLUFF – A cou­ple of weeks ago, Spring Gar­den vol­ley­ball coach Ben Car­roll de­cided to shake things up in the Lady Pan­ther lineup. He moved eighth grader Haleigh Molock up from the ju­nior var­sity team, since their sea­son was over, and also made some other tweaks within the lineup.

On Oct. 17 at Cedar Bluff in the Class 1A, Area 14 tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship match, those moves paid div­i­dends.

Af­ter dis­pos­ing of Gaylesville in their first match 25-8, 25-6, 25-12, Spring Gar­den se­cured a spot in the cham­pi­onship match against tour­na­ment host Cedar Bluff.

The two teams bat­tled the dis­tance, with the Lady Pan­thers es­cap­ing with a 14-25, 25-22, 20-25, 25-21, 16-14 vic­tory, giv­ing Car­roll an early 36th birth­day present and Spring Gar­den (14-34) its fourth straight area tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship.

“It was a sigh of re­lief (see­ing that fi­nal point scored),” Car­roll said. “These young girls needed some­thing. They’ve not won any­thing this sea­son, so it’s ex­cit­ing to see the ex­cite­ment in their eyes, the team­work they’ve had, the love they have for one an­other. This is what you play for. You play for post­sea­son. It’s some­thing I’m proud of.”

With the wins, Spring Gar­den clinched a berth in the North Re­gional Tour­na­ment at the Von Braun Cen­ter in Huntsville. Cedar Bluff (21-22) also ad­vanced to the North Re­gional as area run­ner-up.

Mon­day’s fifth game in the tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship match was just like the other four: back and forth.

Spring Gar­den built as much as a three-point ad­van­tage twice (10-7 and 12-9), only to see the Lady Tigers roar back. The game was tied at 14 be­fore the Lady Pan­thers man­aged to score the fi­nal two points, with last com­ing on a kill by Rachel Mor­ris.

“She’s just an all-around player,” Car­roll said of Mor­ris. “She makes a lot of er­rors, but she also touches the ball a lot. She serves well. She blocks well. She plays front and back row fan­tas­tic, but we needed Mayce Hoag to get some kills and she did. We needed Haleigh Molock and Brea (Bai­ley) to do their jobs, and they did tonight. You saw the re­sults.”

Mor­ris fin­ished the match with 27 digs and 20 kills. Molock man­aged 25 digs and six kills. Hoag had nine kills. Macy Reedy con­trib­uted 10 digs and five aces. AJ Broome posted 14 as­sists, 11 digs and five aces. Kristin Tierce tal­lied 17 as­sists and 16 digs. Ken­ley Gowens fin­ished with 10 digs.

Car­roll said the team ded­i­cated the win to se­nior team­mate Alyssa Gil­ley, who suf­fered an ACL in­jury back dur­ing the Chero­kee County Tour­na­ment.

“She had menis­cus surgery (Mon­day),” Car­roll said. “This win is ded­i­cated to her be­cause she couldn’t be here.”

Abby McBur­nett led Cedar Bluff with eight kills. Mati­son Bed­well posted six kills, four aces and three digs. Laura Ann Hughes con­trib­uted 24 as­sists, five digs, four aces and four kills. Ju­lianne Wil­son and Han­nah Cosby both had four kills. Cosby also added five aces. Brook­lyn Will­banks fin­ished with three digs.

“It was back and forth the whole match,” Cedar Bluff coach Dei­dra Davis said. “Spring Gar­den came ready to play and they showed that. It was a great match to be a part of, a great at­mos­phere to play in, great ef­fort on both sides. It just didn’t come out on the good side for us.”

In the win over Gaylesville (2-18), Mor­ris posted 15 kills and eight aces. Tierce added 12 as­sists and seven aces. Broome con­trib­uted eight as­sists and four aces. Reedy and Molock fin­ished with six and five aces re­spec­tively.

Adri­ana Va­len­cia led the Lady Tro­jans with three kills. Abby Bryson and Sa­van­nah Coker con­trib­uted an ace apiece. Ha­ley Bryson, Kam­bre Reed and Malaya Shire­man each fin­ished with a kill.

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