Pelham tops Thompson in 5-set rivalry thriller

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

PELHAM – It felt more like a primetime matchup rather than a matinee contest between rivals Thompson and Pelham on the volleyball court on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 20, at Pelham High School.

After a thrilling four sets ended with the rivals tied at two sets apiece, a fifth and deciding set saw the two tied at 14-14 as neither wanted to see the match end in a loss. The Panthers, however, found something and were able to reel off back-to-back points to take the final set 16-14 and the match 3-2.

Pelham, who had already locked up a perfect area record to host the 6A Area 3 tournament, started out hot in the first set by running away to a 15-point, 25-10 win.

Thompson head coach Judy Green got her girls refocused after a tough first set, and the Warriors came out ready to answer Pelham’s big first set with two consecutive strong sets of their own.

The Warriors picked up back-to-back 25-18 wins in sets two and three on their way to a 2-1 lead in the match as they had quickly stolen away the momentum from the Panthers.

Pelham wasn’t ready to roll over and give up though, as they put forth every bit of effort they could to win the fourth set 25-17 in a must-win situation to keep the match going.

This led to that fifth and deciding set that the Panthers were able to win 16-14 to take the last two sets in a row.

Emorie Long, Sarah Guthrie and Katelyn Maddox all had strong games killing the ball. Long and Guthrie led the way with 12 kills each, while Maddox added 10 more. Jamila Wilson added seven and Erin Long added four as the team totaled 46 kills in the match.

The Panthers saw a consistent effort from the service line as six different players had at least two aces on the way to a team total of 14. Georgia Stonicher and Hannah Pritchett led the way with three apiece.

That balanced effort continued when it came to digs as four players finished with double-digit digs. Stonicher led the way with 15, while Wilson added 12, Guthrie 11 and Grace Nolen 10.

As seems to be the case every match for the Panthers, Stonicher picked up every assist with 43 total.

Pelham is now 29-8 on the season and 9-0 on its home floor. They have already clinched a spot in the regional tournament on Thursday, Oct. 26, and will play the winner of Helena and Chelsea for the area championship on Monday, Oct. 23.

Thompson will have to beat Vestavia in the first round of its area tournament on Tuesday, Oct. 24, to advance to regionals.