Panthers sweep rival Warriors

Pelham High School senior Ashley Kate Kepler blocks an attack by Thompson senior Sonia Acosta in the Panthers' win over the Warriors in their Class 6A, Area 10 opener Aug. 23. (Reporter Photo/Wesley Hallman)

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

ALABASTER — Pelham High School volleyball coach Haven O’Quinn understands how quickly momentum can change on the court.

O’Quinn got a glimpse of how her team will react to adversity during the third game of its Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A, Area 10 opener Aug. 23 against rival Thompson.

The Panthers, who took the first two games in the match, responded to a Thompson run with a game-clinching run of their own to seal a 25-16, 25-20, 25-18 win on the road in a hostile environment.

“We focus on the runs — eliminating theirs and extending ours,” O’Quinn said. “It’s such a quick, fast game.”

Senior Porsha Tolbert led the Panthers (5-4 overall, 1-0 in Class 6A, Area 10) with eight kills in the victory. Tolbert also had a team-high seven digs to go along with three service aces and two blocks.

Senior Dana Allen added six kills and six digs. Junior Haeden Tucker also recorded six digs.

Senior Ashley Kate Kepler finished with a team-high four service aces to go along with two blocks. Caitland Smith also had two blocks.

Sophomore Alison El-Feraly finished with three service aces. Senior Sydney Days registered a team-high 16 assists.

Senior Jade Douglas led the Warriors (2-1, 0-1 in Class 6A, Area 10) with eight kills in the defeat.

Senior Hailey Schatz and junior Katie Guiser added three kills each. Sophomore Kory Claiborne finished with one kill.

Senior Emily Cofer recorded a team-high four digs. Junior Sarah Allen led Thompson with three service aces.

Senior Sonia Acosta registered a team-high 17 assists. Sophomore Abby Kreuser finished with two blocks.

The Panthers had little trouble in the first two games of the match. Pelham took the first game 25-16 before picking up a 25-20 win in the second game.

Pelham began the third game on an 8-0 run with Tolbert serving to take a 9-1 lead. The Warriors responded with a 9-0 run of their own to take a 10-9 lead in the third game.

However, the Panthers came back with a 10-0 run with Kepler serving, which took away any hope of the Warriors avoiding a sweep.

O’Quinn said Tolbert and Kepler played a key role in the Panthers’ service success.

“Serving can be our bread and butter,” O’Quinn said. “We dominated behind the service line tonight.”