State Volleyball Tournament: Jasper falls just short of first title

Addison wins 1A crown

By JOHNATHAN BENTLEY, Eagle Sports Editor
Posted 11/2/17

BIRMINGHAM — Jasper completed one of the biggest comebacks the State Volleyball Tournament has ever seen Thursday morning at Bill Smith Arena.

The only thing missing — the win.

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State Volleyball Tournament: Jasper falls just short of first title

Addison wins 1A crown

Posted

BIRMINGHAM — Jasper completed one of the biggest comebacks the State Volleyball Tournament has ever seen Thursday morning at Bill Smith Arena.

The only thing missing — the win.

The Vikings battled back from two sets down and fought off five match points from the Pelham Panthers before finally losing a 25-20, 26-24, 22-25, 25-27, 17-15 decision at the Birmingham Crossplex.

Jasper may have dropped the first two sets — the second after losing three set points — but the Vikings fought back from a nine-point deficit in the fourth set that put the teams even at two sets apiece and set up a back-and-forth, nail-biter of a fifth set.

The Vikings struck first in the fifth, grabbing a 4-0 lead. Pelham drew even at 8-8. Jasper’s final lead came at 13-12. The teams were tied at 15-15 before the Panthers took the lead for good.

“We had several times during the match where we could’ve got down on ourselves and gave up, but we kept fighting and gave ourselves a chance to win,” said Jasper head coach Bobby Daniels, who also lost two five-set state championship matches while the coach at Winston County.

Jasper (57-5) was a mere three points away from being swept in the third set on Thursday. With Pelham holding a 2-0 lead, the teams were tied at 22-22. Jasper won the next three points thanks to a Morgan McClendon kill and two Pelham attempts going long.

The Panthers controlled most of the fourth set before Jasper again rallied.

Pelham led by as many as nine points at 17-8, but the Vikings chipped away. The Panthers led 21-15 and 24-21. Jasper won six of the next seven points to keep their hopes alive.

“We just told each other to keep our heads up. We’re not a team that just gives up. We’re a team that will fight to the end,” said junior leader McKinley Ferguson. “This is going to motivate us. Next year we are coming. We have to win from the beginning. We can’t start off slow and then try to catch up. We’ve got to start fast and keep the speed.”

For Jasper, both Ferguson (18 kills and 29 assists) and Tameyah Griffin (13 kills) made the Class 6A All-State Tournament Team. McClendon added 13 kills, Alex Oliver had 12 kills, Khloe Kimbrell had 25 assists and Temperance Chatman had 30 digs and four aces. Pelham’s Emorie Long had 17 kills and was named the tournament MVP.

Pelham finished the match with 63 kills, compared to 62 for Jasper.

———

Addison tops Meek for 5th straight title

Meek’s seventh meeting of the season against Addison ended the same way as the first six — with a Bulldogs’ victory.

The Tigers picked up a first-set victory over Addison the Class 1A state championship match on Thursday morning, but the Bulldogs took over from there, winning a 26-28, 25-19, 25-19, 25-19 at Bill Harris Arena.

The championship was Addison’s fifth in a row, including two in Class 2A.

No. 2 Meek had the momentum early, after winning a back-and-forth first set. The teams were evenly matched over the last three with Addison (51-8) pulling away late each time.

“I feel like we have come a long way from the beginning of the season,” Meek coach Dana Waldrep said. “(Early on) we never thought we could beat them. We had it in our minds that they were going to win every time we played them. Each time we played, we got closer and closer. I feel like the girls had it in their heads that we could finally do it. I’m proud of the way they played. I don’t think they have anything to be ashamed of.”

Senior Abbie Chambless led the No. 1 Bulldogs with 20 kills and 12 digs to earn MVP honors for the second straight year. Savannah Manley added nine kills and two blocks, Kendra Tyree had 21 digs and setter Cecilee Gaither had 21 assists.

Savanna Banks paced Meek (46-18) with 22 kills and 24 digs. Amanda Cunningham also had 15 kills and setter Jayden Waldrep had 34 assists.

Addison’s Cecilee Gaither and Kendra Tyree joined Chambless on the All-Tournament Team along with Meek’s Sevanna Banks, Amanda Cunningham and Jayden Waldrep.