Eagles clip Wildcats in season opener

Published 7:53 pm Thursday, August 18, 2011

Calera High School senior Kellie Rasmussen serves the ball during the Eagles' 20-25, 26-24, 24-26, 25-12, 15-13 win over rival Shelby County in the season opener for both teams Aug. 18. (Reporter Photo/Wesley Hallman)

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

COLUMBIANA — Shelby County High School volleyball coach Jamie Creekmore offered simple advice to his players heading into the final game of a five-set match against Calera on the opening day of the season Aug. 18.

“No runs — whatsoever,” Creekmore instructed.

The message came a little too late and the damage was already done in the Wildcats’ 25-20, 24-26, 26-24, 12-25, 13-15 loss to the rival Eagles.

Calera used a 11-0 scoring run, which came shortly after a smaller 7-0 spurt, in the fourth game of the match to pick up momentum down the stretch. The Eagles held on in the fifth and final game to clinch the season opener for both teams.

“We like playing Shelby County,” said Calera coach Amanda Lewis. “It’s good competition for our first game. It’s a good way to start off the year. We always play well against each other.”

The match marked the first court action in four months for Calera senior setter Kellie Rasmussen, who was cleared to play one day before the season began following a speedy recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury in April.

Rasmussen sparked the Calera offense and finished with four kills, eight assists and eight service aces. Rasmussen said just being on the court for the first game of her senior season was a privilege.

“It’s a great feeling,” Rasmussen said. “I can’t really explain it.”

Calera sophomore middle blocker A’Kia Harris led the Eagles (1-0) with 12 kills in the match. Harris added four service aces. Junior defensive specialist Elizabeth Rhinehart added five kills and 11 service aces. Amber Sherman recorded four kills in the match.

Shelby County sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn Paschall led an imposing front row for the Wildcats (0-1) and finished with 10 kills and two blocks in the defeat.

Shelby County High School sophomore Kaitlyn Paschall blocks an attack by Calera in the Wildcats' loss to the Eagles in their season opener Aug. 18. (Reporter Photo/Wesley Hallman)

Junior outside hitter Jasmyn Buie added seven kills. Sophomore outside hitter Keyanna Gayden finished with four kills and five service aces.

Paschall finished with three kills in the opening game as Shelby County took the first game of the match 25-20.

The Eagles rallied to take the second game 26-24 despite a 6-0 run by the Wildcats midway through the game. Shelby County returned the favor with a 26-24 win in the third game following a block by Gayden and a service ace by junior Alisha White to close the game.

Calera capped an 11-0 run in the fourth game with a kill by Rasmussen. The Eagles took the game 25-12 to even the match at two games apiece.

Following a back-and-forth battle throughout the deciding fifth game, an attack by Rhinehart tipped the top of the net and landed just behind the outstretched arms of Buie and Gayden to give the Eagles a one-point advantage late in the game. A service error by the Wildcats clinched the victory for the Eagles.

Lewis said having Rasmussen back in the lineup played a big role in the Eagles’ comeback after dropping two of the first three games.

“We play a totally different game when she’s in there,” Lewis said.

Rasmussen found a positive in the midst of her adversity following the injury. Rasmussen said sitting out in the Eagles’ playing dates this summer helped both her and the team.

“It was so hard to watch,” Rasmussen said. “But it let me see what we needed to work on. I know what our strengths and weaknesses are now.”