Eagles headed back to Elite Eight

Oak Mountain High School senior Abbi Bourque attempts to block an attack by Oxford with coach Lance Woods directing the defense in the Eagles' win Oct. 20. (Reporter Photo/Wesley Hallman)

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY — Oak Mountain High School senior Sara Goodwin heard the doubters before her final volleyball season with the Eagles began.

Goodwin heard opponents discount Oak Mountain, which lost career kills leader Samantha Skinner and legendary coach Tammy Richardson following an appearance in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A championship match a year ago.

Goodwin and her teammates proved the naysayers wrong with a 22-25, 25-17, 25-11, 25-11 win over Oxford in a Class 6A sub-state match Oct. 20 to earn a return trip to the Elite Eight. The Eagles will face Baker in the Class 6A quarterfinals Oct. 26 at 8 a.m. at the Pelham Civic Complex.

Goodwin said those who didn’t respect the Eagles underestimated first-year coach Lance Woods.

“Lance brought a whole new perspective,” Goodwin said. “He’s been utilizing all of our hitters. Everyone stepped up. We proved everyone wrong.”

Junior Emily Cosgrove led the Eagles (33-10) with 14 kills in the victory. Cosgrove also recorded five blocks.

Junior Hannah Kowal added 10 kills. Sophomore Hannah Beach registered three service aces and a team-high 26 assists.

Goodwin finished with eight kills, seven digs and four service aces in the victory.

After dropping the the first set to the Yellow Jackets, Oak Mountain cruised in the final three sets.

The Eagles clinched the second set 25-17. Cosrgove slammed a kill to give Oak Mountain a 14-3 advantage and the Eagles never looked back in a 25-11 win in the third set.

Oak Mountain raced out to an early 10-1 lead, capped by a block from Cosgrove and Beach, on its way to a 25-11 win in the final set.