Helena wins Class 6A Area 8 tournament over Pelham and Chelsea

Published 11:58 am Wednesday, October 19, 2016

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Staff Writer

Chelsea High School played host to the Class 6A Area 8 volleyball tournament on Tuesday, Oct. 12.

It couldn’t have been a better night for the Helena Lady Huskies’ volleyball team as they won back-to-back matches against rival Pelham and tournament host Chelsea to take home the Class 6A Area 8 title.

The first match against Pelham saw the Huskies playing from ahead and having control pretty much the entire time as they would go on to sweep Panthers 3-0.

“Usually we do a pretty good job of expanding a lead, but we don’t do a good job of retaining the lead,” said Huskies head coach Amanda Lewis. “I thought we did a great job of that tonight, especially in that first match with Pelham.”

Helena would come out and start hot in the matchup with Chelsea, jumping out to a 15-6 lead.

Sarah Prince and Lexie Riggins of Chelsea would step up to the service line and bring them all the way back to tie things up at 16.

The rest of game one saw them battle back and forth all the way up to a 22-22 tie, before Helena won 3 in a row to take game one 25-22.

Almost like clockwork, the Huskies came out and started Game two hot as well going up 12-7.

Yet again behind a strong Chelsea serve from Maurica Marsh, the Hornets were able to go on a 6-1 run and tie the game up at 13.

This was the first time throughout the night you got a sense that momentum had shifted away from Helena’s favor.

The two teams would battle back and forth the rest of the way with Chelsea holding a game point at 24-23, which they would capitalize on to take game two 25-23.

Game two was back and forth the entire way and saw some tremendous points, but Helena would take control late to win 25-21, and take a 2-1 lead putting them one game away from the area championship.

However, the Hornets would not go down without a fight.

You could tell Helena’s legs were getting a little tired during game four after already playing six consecutive games on the night. Chelsea took advantage and dominated the game from start to finish with perfect digs, sets and kills, to win by a score of 25-15.

“It’s difficult to rally up the girls to play five competitive games,” Lewis said. “At that point the wheels were about to fall off with the obvious momentum shift.”

This would set up a fifth and deciding game, in which both teams would give everything they had left in the tank.

Chelsea would jump out to a 4-0 lead, but the Huskies weren’t going to let all of their work on the evening be wasted.

They would battle back to create a very memorable back and forth final game.

Hallie Smith and Samantha Sheets controlled the net pretty much the entire night and ended up swinging momentum in the final game with some great kills. It seemed like the control they had earlier in the night was coming back and they played seemingly perfect.

The Huskies would eventually come all the way back to take a 14-13 lead and grab a match point they would take advantage of to become the 2016 area champions.

“We did a great job of coming back and recovering in game five, especially after finding ourselves down 4-0 early,” Lewis said.

It’s important to emphasize that each of these teams will move on to the super regionals of the playoffs.

Both will face off against Dothan teams on Friday, Oct. 21, as Helena will play Area 3 runner up Northview, and the Hornets will take on the Area 3 champion Dothan Tigers.

“Looking at the bracket there’s no easy way in 6A,” Lewis said. “I just hope we can continue to play our best and whoever we matchup with we bring our A game.”

The All-Tournament team included Emorie Long of Pelham, Lexie Riggins and Jules Hamer of Chelsea, and Jenn Brown, Hallie Smith, Madison Rhodes and tournament MVP Samantha Sheets of Helena.