Jaguars storm back in season-opening win at Oak Mountain

Published 2:24 pm Friday, August 24, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – A 2-0 road deficit was nothing for the Spain Park Jaguars’ volleyball team in its opener on Thursday, Aug. 23, against the Oak Mountain Eagles.

After losing the first two sets, the Jags stormed back to win the final three against their rival to pull off what could be a huge, momentous 3-2 win to spark this team’s 2018 season.

No set was a blowout in the match, with the biggest point differential in a set being seven points, by each team once.

The first of those seven-point wins came by the Eagles in the first set of the match. Oak Mountain jumped out to a 7-1 lead and held a fairly strong lead throughout the opening set in large part due to the play of Leah Nielsen, who had a strong start to her senior season.

After the strong start, the Eagles went on to win the set by a final score of 25-18 to take a 1-0 advantage in the match.

In the second set, it was tight early and at the end, but Oak Mountain took a strong 16-12 lead at one point. The Jags, however, battled back with an 8-3 run to jump in front 20-19 late in the set.

Somehow, the Eagles were able to compose themselves and regain momentum to end the set on a 6-1 run, which gave them a 25-20 win and a 2-0 lead overall.

In a must-win third set for the Jaguars, it was extremely tight throughout with each team going on separate runs.

Oak Mountain held the lead at 22-21 and was just three points away from winning the match, but Spain Park battled back to close out the set on a 4-1 run to claim the set 25-22 and extend the match.

Now trailing two games to one, the Jags still were in a must-win situation for the next two sets to avoid a loss, and they trucked right along.

Almost a completely different team from the first two sets, Spain Park jumped out to a dominant 16-7 lead in the fourth set, before eventually going on to win by a final of 25-18 to tie the match 2-2 and force a deciding fifth set.

In the fifth set, which is only played to 15 points instead of 25, the two teams battled closely throughout.

Spain Park, however, got a hot start early to take a 5-1 lead, which helped the Jags play from in front in a much more comfortable situation than the Eagles.

Oak Mountain battled back to cut the deficit to two points, but couldn’t ever overcome the momentum the Jags had gathered, which led to a 15-12 win for Spain Park in the final set to complete the unbelievable comeback in the first game of the season.

The Jaguars were led by Audrey Rotham, who had 14 kills as well as one ace and three blocks. Sha’Kevia Hogan, Paris Morris and Olivia Shark each had at least seven kills as well, while Morris led the team with seven blocks and Shark led the team with three aces.

It was an impressive start for both rivals, as Oak Mountain is replacing a ton of talent, and Spain Park showed it can compete with its back against the wall and take the next step this season.