Thompson beats Pelham during in-school volleyball match

Published 12:44 pm Friday, October 19, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

ALABASTER – In one of the more fun high school sporting decisions each year, the Thompson Warriors and Pelham Panthers met inside Warrior Arena on the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 18, for an in-school volleyball matchup that saw the arena filled with students, faculty and fans to create one of the best sporting environments you can get at the high school level.

Not only were the students getting a break from school, but they were getting a chance to see two of the best teams from the 7A and 6A classifications, as the Warriors and Panthers both have a chance at a deep playoff run this season.

A fast start for Thompson gave them a 2-0 lead in the match early, and while Pelham came back to make the next two sets extremely interesting, winning one, the Warriors went on to take the matinee matchup by a final of 3-1 (25-18, 25-18, 23-25, 26-24).

Sitting in a tough road environment that featured one of the largest crowds a volleyball team at this level will see, Pelham struggled to handle the situation out of the gates, while Thompson took advantage of the fans and their support.

The Warriors came out in the first two sets with a purpose, winning both by final scores of 25-18.

In each of those two sets, you could tell Pelham was capable of competing against the 7A team, being the defending 6A state champion and one of the best again this year, but a few bounces just didn’t go the Panthers’ way.

That changed in the third set.

Needing to win the set to keep the match going, Pelham stepped up and became what they talked about earlier this season, a team that is fresh late in matches to either stay alive or win a marathon match.

In a back-and-forth set, the Panthers eventually gathered a 24-23 lead late in the set.

Knowing that a 24-24 tie could ruin all of its momentum, Pelham took no chances and closed the set-point out to take the third set 25-23 and trim the deficit to 2-1 overall.

That led to an adrenaline-packed fourth set between the two rivals.

With the Panthers still needing to win to stay in the match, they fought hard in an attempt at another win to force a fifth and deciding set.

Like the third set, the two teams were in a close battle nearing match point and eventually ended up in a 24-24 tie, exactly what Pelham was able to avoid the set before.

This time around, Thompson took advantage of the tie, and went on to win two consecutive points in front of the home crowd to close out the match with a 26-24 set victory and a 3-1 match win.

Both teams will now have their hands full in the area tournaments thanks to difficult areas, but both are expected to advance to the area championship, as well as Super Regionals.