Pelham sweeps Calera for another area win

Published 5:25 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2018

By SETH HAGAN | For the Reporter

CALERA – The Pelham Panthers’ road rematch with the Calera Eagles took a more difficult turn, but ultimately ended with the same result as the Panthers took the match in straight sets for another area win on Tuesday, Oct. 9.

The Panthers continue to maintain their No. 3 ranking in Class 6A and improved their record to 25-4 on the year. The 25-20, 25-18, 25-16 sweep is Pelham’s eighth win in their last 10 matches including a revenge win against No. 4 Chelsea last week.

The first match proved to be the most compelling as the Panthers built an early 9-5 lead, but Calera quickly answered with a 9-2 run including six straight points for a 17-11 advantage.

The Eagles’ service was much improved with two aces and several serves that came back to Calera’s side after just one touch. It was then that Pelham’s Emma McKenney made her presence felt for the Panthers recording two kills and a block to galvanize the Panthers who took advantage of six unforced Eagles’ turnovers to finish the first set on a 14-3 run.

“We were a little sloppy on first contact, got better as we played, but serving was up and down and that’s something we’ll address as soon as we get back in the gym,” Pelham head coach Perry Robinson said after the win.

The poor ending for Calera didn’t affect their start to the second set as the home team jumped out to a quick 8-3 lead.

However, Pelham answered with another 14-3 run keyed by three more kills from McKenney and two aces from Ashley Anderson.

“Emma had a nice match, probably one of the best offensive matches she’s had,” Robinson said. “She’s a sophomore, but she didn’t play last year because of an injury so really it’s her first year. So we knew it would take a while and we’ve had some highlights. Tonight was another really good one and we just need to see her build off that.”

Down 20-12, Calera loaded up for one last gasp, but again were done in by five unforced errors down the stretch, including a service error to close the second set, 25-18.

The Eagles showed prowess in their ability to dig out several hard hits from the Panthers, but their sets lacked timing making it hard on their outside hitters to capitalize.

The final set volleyed back and forth for the first 32 points as Pelham never led by more than four in the early going and clung to a slim 17-15 lead late.

The Eagles continued to play hard in front of the home crowd, but seemed to run out of gas late as the Panther front line continued their onslaught. PHS ended the set on a 7-0 run made possible by five Calera errors.

Pelham was led by McKenney’s nine kills and four blocks, while Erin Long finished a close second with eight kills. Georgia Stonicher again paced Pelham with 31 assists and Ashley Anderson added three service aces on the night.

Pelham will look to continue their winning ways with the area tournament now less than two weeks away and will stay on the road next for a tri-match at Montgomery Academy on Tuesday, Oct. 16 starting at 5:30 p.m. followed by a matchup with county rival Thompson High School on Thursday and a tournament in Prattville that weekend.