Shelby County advances to Super Regionals

Published 7:22 am Tuesday, October 23, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

COLUMBIANA – With a sweep of the Jemison Panthers in the first round of the Class 5 Area 6 tournament and in front of their home crowd on Monday, Oct. 22, the Shelby County Wildcats were able to advance to the Super Regional round of the Class 5A playoffs.

The Wildcats dominated the first set, before being forced to come back in the second and third sets to pick up a 3-0 sweep (25-15, 26-24, 25-21) to not only advance to the area championship game, but also Super Regionals.

Shelby County made easy work of the first against Jemison going on to win by a final score of 25-15 to take a quick 1-0 lead in the match, but the next two sets were a different story.

The Wildcats fell behind 2-0 early in the second set before a back-and-forth battle ensued between the two teams.

Eventually, Shelby County battled back to tie the set 9-9 and eventually take the lead at 11-10, but Jemison went on to outscore the Wildcats 9-5 over the next 11 points to take a 19-16 lead.

Shelby County, however, battled back with a 5-0 run to eventually take a 21-19 lead late in the set.

Jemison eventually tied it again at 21-21, which led to each team trading points before a 24-24 tie. Needing to win by two, the Wildcats went on to win the next two points to close out the set with two consecutive points to take a 2-0 lead in the match.

That marked the first of two consecutive sets the Wildcats were forced to come back from a deficit.

In the third set, looking to close out the match, Shelby County got off to another slow start and eventually fell behind 14-4.

Finally, a light switch was flipped and the Wildcats were able to reel off 4-0 run to at least trim the deficit to 14-8.

Jemison still controlled the next few minutes of play, however, and eventually took a commanding 18-10 lead. With the Wildcats 15 points away from a victory and the Panthers just seven points away, it looked like the match was headed for a fourth set.

But like the second set, Shelby County was able to get loosened up and put together a strong run. The Wildcats went on to end the set on a 15-3 run to not only storm in front but win the set and the match with a sweep.

With the win, Shelby County earned a spot in the area championship game against Marbury later that afternoon.

Area Championship game

Coming into the area championship game, both teams were fresh off of opening-round sweeps and playing good volleyball.

After splitting the first two sets, Marbury showed a little extra fight, however, and went on to claim the Class 5A Area 6 tournament with a 3-1 win (25-23, 21-25, 25-11, 25-22).

You couldn’t have asked for a better start to the match as the two teams traded points in the opening set.

Shelby County jumped out to a 3-1 lead and led at 7-6 and 8-7, before Marbury fought back to take control of the set. The Bulldogs never held a dominant lead, but went up by as many as four points, 15-11, to set the tone.

The Wildcats stayed within striking distance throughout and never let the set get out of control, eventually cutting their deficit to one point three different times until the score was 24-23.

Unfortunately for Shelby County, Marbury was able to reel off the final point to close out a thrilling 25-23 win in the opening set of the championship match.

The Wildcats fell behind early in the second set, 3-0, but were able to finally get some confidence and bounced back with a 10-0 run behind the serve of Jesse Allen.

Shelby County eventually extended their lead to 15-5, 16-6 and 22-12, but Marbury then put on a furious run to eventually trim the Wildcats’ lead to 23-20 and 24-21, but the Wildcats closed out the set with a furious spike from Alyssa Seale to close the set out and tie the match 1-1.

Any momentum the Wildcats had gained slipped away quickly in the third set.

Marbury came out form the start and dominated the set, eventually finding themselves up 18-5. The Bulldogs went on to gain a set point at 24-9, before closing the set out a few points later for a 25-11 win and a 2-1 lead in the match.

The early part of the fourth set saw a tight match throughout and was back-and-forth up to a 9-9 tie, before Shelby County went on a run, eventually gathering a 13-9 lead thanks to a 7-0 run behind the serve of Haley Howard.

Marbury quickly answered back with a 7-1 run of its own to take a 16-14 lead, before the two teams tied again shortly after at 18-18.

The Bulldogs then went on another run and gathered a 23-19 lead, before the Wildcats tried to make it interesting late cutting Marbury’s lead to two points at 24-22, before a service error ended their chances at a comeback victory.

Shelby County players to make the All-Tournament team were Madison Purcell and Seale.

The Wildcats will now play at 10:15 a.m. in the first round of Super Regionals this Thursday at Montgomery’s Crampton Bowl MultiPlex, and should they win, they’ll advance to a matchup at 5 p.m. with a trip to the state tournament on the line.