Montevallo advances to Elite Eight

Published 8:33 pm Thursday, October 20, 2011

Montevallo High School senior Mallory Anderson slides an attack past Abbeville defenders in the Bulldogs' win Oct. 20. (Reporter Photo/Kala Bolton)

By KALA BOLTON / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO — The Montevallo Bulldogs swept the Abbeville High School volleyball team 25-18, 25-11, 25-11 in an Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 3A sub-state match Oct. 20 to advance to the Elite Eight State Tournament.

It’s the first time in four years that the Bulldogs have advanced this far, and they did it without the help of one of their veteran leaders. Senior setter Kathryn Ray was absent Thursday night while representing Alabama at the Future Farmers of America National Convention in Indianapolis.

“You’re 24-1, you’re getting to the sub-state round, and then all of a sudden your main assist person, your second-leading person in kills is not here,” head coach Tena Nevin said. “A lot of teams probably would have freaked out, but I met with them earlier today, and they were ready to fight for it and make sure (Ray) got another chance to play. There’s no win probably since I’ve been here that I’ve been more proud of.”

Sophomore McKenna Anderson stepped up, filling Ray’s spot for the majority of the match, totaling 16 assists on the night and working closely with her older sister, senior Mallory Anderson.

“We had to adjust a little bit with McKenna setting to her sister,” Nevin said, ”but that seemed to work, so we just said ‘Hey let’s just keep feeding Mallory with McKenna.’ They have a chemistry. The rest of them just filled their roles – good passing, good serving.”

The Bulldogs shot to a 5-0 lead in the first set but struggled to find a rhythm as the Yellow Jackets challenged the Montevallo lead. Aggressive net play was the deciding factor for the Bulldogs as they took the set following three kills from Mallory Anderson, a service ace from junior Sarah Hyde and game-winning tip from senior Maryann Lee.

The two teams remained neck-and-neck through the start of the second set, but two late five-point runs gave the Bulldogs the upper-hand, and three more kills from Mallory Anderson handed Montevallo the second set.

The Yellow Jackets stung first in the third set, but Montevallo maintained control as it scored nine unanswered points to give the Bulldogs a 13-2 lead. Montevallo’s momentum stalled mid-way through the set as Abbeville began fighting back, but three service aces from junior Brittany Anderson set the Bulldogs on the home stretch. Two late kills from sophomore Kerrington Maddox sealed the win and an Elite Eight berth for Montevallo.

“I’m beyond excited,” Mallory Anderson said. “I just can’t believe it actually happened. Tonight our team played probably the best we’ve played all season, especially to pick it up when one of our key players wasn’t here. I think tonight was good motivation for the next game we have to play, and we have a lot of good support around us.”

Anderson led the team with 23 kills and 17 digs. Lee totaled 16 digs and five kills while Hyde added five service aces.

The Bulldogs will face Danville in a Class 3A quarterfinal match in the state tournament Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. at the Pelham Civic Complex.