Westminster falls in Elite 8

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

Birmingham – In just its third year with a varsity volleyball team, the Westminster Knights found themselves in the Elite 8 of the volleyball state tournament held at the Birmingham Crossplex in Birmingham on Wednesday, Nov. 1.

The Knights came into the state tournament sporting an overall record of 19-11 on the season under head coach John Jones, but got the privilege of playing No. 1 Addison in the first round, who came into the tournament 48-8 overall.

The Bulldogs showed their dominance in a straight-set 3-0 victory (25-11, 25-7, 25-13) to end Westminster’s season.

“When you play the No. 1 team in the state, there are results when you’re No. 8 and they’re seeded first,” Jones said. “You sorta know the result, but at the same time you play hard. This is a great bunch of girls that have worked hard every day, it’s amazing to me.”

That sentiment showed off when the Knights were down 2-0 in the match and 24-12 in the final set when Jones called a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, you could sense some excitement, laughter and motivation.

The Knights came out and won the next point and went crazy after.

“We just told jokes that entire timeout,” Jones said laughing. “I just said we’re going to have a good time. They’re an amazing group that takes things seriously, but at the same time, they have a great idea of reality and that’s what makes them fun.”

With only three seniors on the team, and 11 players back next year—including seven sophomores and one freshman—this year’s experience seems to have the team primed for a bright future.

“I think this has great implications for the future,” Jones said. “Our other sports are doing great right now and we’re sorta digging our way out of this hole to get some respect.”

One way they showed they were for real wasn’t just the play on the court this season, but the crowd that was by far the largest of any of the 8 a.m. starts.

“With that awesome crowd, I think it shows where this program is going and how many people want to help us get to that point,” Jones said.

Jones is in his first year as the varsity head coach after spending last year as the middle school coach and said he couldn’t have imagined a better experience to start his varsity career with the Knights.

“The preparation that has been done in elementary school and middle school is what has gotten us here,” Jones said. “To do this in our third season as a varsity volleyball team is just amazing.”

Westminster finished the season with an overall record of 19-12 and an appearance in its first ever Elite 8.

Photos available at shelbycountyphotos.com