Pelham wins Class 6A Area 8 Championship, headed to Super Regionals

Published 6:03 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2018

By SETH HAGAN | For the Reporter

PELHAM – The Class 6A Area 8 volleyball tournament championship did not disappoint, but certainly proved the value of having the No. 1 seed from the regular season.

It almost seemed destined for No. 3 Pelham and No. 6 Chelsea to meet again on this stage having split their regular season series.

Both teams dominated their first set wins, but it was the defending champion Panthers who outlasted the Hornets in Class 6A’s toughest division 25-15, 16-25, 25-19, 25-14.

Pelham slowly built their first-set lead into a 12-8 advantage before pouncing on a tired Chelsea team with a 9-1 run to essentially put the set out of reach.

Erin Long was locked in the entire championship and smashed seven kills in the first set alone, while Sarah Guthrie chipped in four.

Chelsea, however, showed it could bounce back and responded next with an impressive set win of its own.

The Hornets’ frontline had a field day racking up 14 kills and four blocks as they jumped out to a 16-6 lead.

The Panthers seemed shell-shocked and weren’t able to respond never getting closer than seven points the rest of the way.

Zoe LaBreche led the Hornets with eight kills, while Victoria Schmer outdid herself from the semifinal match and registered an eye-popping 38 digs in the championship.

Pelham resumed its championship form in the third set, however.

Long and Guthrie hammered away at the Hornets, who began to show signs of fatigue again, unable to sustain any consistent runs. Long finished with 25 kills and 17 digs on the day.

“We’re happy to see Erin come back and play, she’s been nursing some injuries and she has come back and played really well,” said Pelham head coach Perry Robinson. “Sarah has been our rock while Erin’s been out and done so many good things for us. Proud of Georgia as well, she’s led us through some changes in this one.”

Georgia Stonicher remained a stalwart for the Panthers leading the team in both assists and digs with 46 and 21, respectively.

Instead of making excuses, Chelsea head coach Jessica Pickett focused more on the team performance and what they need to do to be successful moving forward.

“We started playing together and it showed, but when we fall apart it’s like the wheels fall off and it’s hard to recover,” Pickett said. “We can’t play as individuals, we have to come together and play as a team.”

The Panthers finished off the third set 25-19 and quickly ran away with the fourth and final period.

Up 10-6, they used a 6-0 run complete with two aces from Ashley Anderson to take a double-digit lead, and the Hornets were unable to overcome the swing in momentum.

Despite the loss, Chelsea advanced to Super Regionals in Montgomery this Thursday at Montgomery’s Crampton Bowl MultiPlex.

With a second consecutive area championship secured, Perry Robinson praised his Pelham team, which responded to adversity and change all season.

“We’ve changed a few things midstream which helped and, again, a total team effort because we’ve had to do a lot of moving the pieces to get to this point.”

Pelham will return to Montgomery this Thursday to start its path toward defending its 2017 state championship.