Oak Mountain ends season with loss in Elite Eight

Oak Mountain High School volleyball coach Tammy Richardson brought many teams to the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A volleyball tournament at the Pelham Civic Complex during her time as the Pelham head coach.

Wednesday she brought another team to the tournament for the first time, and it showed, Richardson said.

Richardson’s Eagles were swept by McGill-Toolen in the Class 6A quarterfinals 25-11, 25-16, 25-23 in the school’s first trip to the Elite Eight since 2003.

“I was hoping that we could recreate the success we’ve had,” Richardson said. “The first-time jitters were just too much for them.”

Junior Samantha Skinner led Oak Mountain (36-22) with 10 kills in the quarterfinal match.

Senior Erica Vatella had a team-high 20 digs and three service aces. Junior Chelsea Payne finished with 18 assists. Junior Natalie Quinn added four kills and a block.

The Eagles looked overwhelmed in the first set. Oak Mountain battled in the second set before a late run by McGill-Toolen.

The Eagles nearly forced a fourth set before dropping the third and final set 25-23.

Skinner said the trip to the Elite Eight will be helpful for the Eagles, who will have 12 of their 14 varsity players returning next season.

“The future is looking really good,” Skinner said. “We’re not going to lose (in the Elite Eight) next year.”

Skinner said taking the court at the Pelham Civic Complex for the first time is an experience she’ll never forget.

“It was really crazy seeing all of the crowds from each school,” Skinner said. “We had more than 500 kids from our school. I really appreciated them being there.”

Richardson said the Elite Eight apperance will be a great learning experience for the returning players.

“It’s invaluable,” Richardson said. “Hopefully we’ll take this experience and learn from it. It will make our players better next year.”