Helena falls to Jasper 3-1 in Elite 8

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

BIRMINGHAM–The Helena Huskies volleyball team had a tall task when they took the court to face the North No. 1 seed Jasper Vikings in the AHSAA 6A State Tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 1, but they didn’t back down.

Ultimately, Helena couldn’t pull off the upset victory as the South No. 4 seed as they fell to Jasper by a score of 25-22, 13-25, 8-25 and 18-25.

Helena jumped on Jasper early and took the first set to surprise the Vikings to force at least a 4-set match.

Helena head coach Amanda Lewis said taking a relaxed approach helped her team settle in and take the opening set.

“I think that we took the approach of set one as very relaxed and just playing our game,” Lewis said. “Being disciplined on defense was our main focus knowing that they have good hitters and we were just going to be ready to make some good plays. They played relaxed and I think they came out and we did that.”

Jasper took back the momentum in the next two sets by opening with big leads that would be too much to overcome for the Huskies.

“I think game two our first ball contact and our servicing broke down and that was the difference in the game,” Lewis said. “Starting off a game 9-0 on the No. 1 team in the north it’s hard to come back. But unfortunately, once you get to this point everybody’s good and you can’t make unforced errors.”

Down 2-1, Helena needed a win in set No. 4 to send the match to a fifth set for a chance to advance to the Final 4.

Set No. 4 was much closer than the previous two but the Vikings reeled off six points in a row midway through the set to pull away for a 25-18 win to clinch the match.

McKinley Ferguson and Tameyah Griffin led the way for Jasper finishing with 14 kills each. Abby Trotter also added 26 digs for the Vikings.

Emma Johnson finished the match with 19 kills and 19 digs for Helena.

Even though Helena was put out of the state tournament on the first day, Lewis believes the experience will help the underclassmen and rising seniors going forward.

“Playing in an atmosphere like this definitely builds character and of course the more that you play in something like this, the less your nerves have a part to do with your performance,” Lewis said. “I think coming here is good for our upcoming seniors just to have that experience and something for our younger teams to look forward to.”

The Huskies finished the season with an overall record of 30-11.

To see more photos, visit Shelbycountyphotos.com.