Calera’s season ends at hands of Pelham

Published 3:13 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2018

By SETH HAGAN | For the Reporter

PELHAM – Area 8 in Alabama’s Class 6A when it comes to volleyball has been one of the strongest regardless of classification. Featuring three top-10 teams in the state, it’s one of the most difficult to navigate.

The reality going into the Monday, Oct. 22, was that at least one of those top ranked teams would be eliminated before reaching the final stages in Montgomery later this week.

But that would not be the Pelham Panthers, who came into the tournament ranked No. 3 in the state, and squared off for the third time with the Calera Eagles sweeping them in straight sets for the third consecutive time this season 25-15, 26-24, 25-14 to earn a spot in the 2018 Super Regionals, as they try to defend their 6A state championship.

Calera came out hot scoring the first three points in the opening set, but Pelham quickly answered with a 10-2 run featuring points from five different Panther players.

The teams traded points before three consecutive aces from Ashley Anderson put the set away for good with Pelham cruising to the 25-15 win.

The second set featured Calera’s best effort.

The Eagles, a young, promising team with just two seniors, have come closer and closer each match to swiping a set from their rivals.

Early in that second set the teams traded 5-0 runs to start a string of what ended up being nine ties in the set with neither team leading by more than three from there on.

Calera built a 13-10 lead before the Panthers ran off four straight to retake the lead.

The teams again traded points until a 20-20 tie, followed by two points from Pelham then four straight from Calera to push the defending champs to the brink of a second-set loss.

Only then did head coach Perry Robinson take his first timeout of the match.

After taking a breather and talking it over, the Panthers did what they’ve done so often this season: finish.

Pelham executed the next four plays perfectly including three kills, two from Sarah Guthrie, to stave off the threat and win 26-24.

Calera head coach Brittany Todd was very pleased with how far her team has come this year.

“We have improved so much, we’re a young team,” she said. “Aubrey Huffman has done a great job leading our team and has really been our backbone. She’s really pushed the younger ones to get better not only mentally but physically.”

Todd added that many sophomores and juniors will be returning next year so the future for the Eagles appears to be bright.

The Panthers closed out the match with a concerted effort and Guthrie leading the way. The outside hitter finished with eight kills and 12 digs in the tournament. Pelham advanced to the tournament finals that night where they met the Chelsea Hornets.