Thompson volleyball earns spot in Super Regionals
Published 9:11 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2018
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
HOOVER – After staving off two set points in the fourth set, the Thompson Warriors went on to close out the set with a 4-0 run to take down the Oak Mountain Eagles 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-14, 26-24)) in the first round of the area tournament at Hoover High School on Tuesday, Oct. 23.
With the victory, the Warriors were able to not only advance to the area tournament championship, but also to the Super Regional round of the playoffs in Huntsville on Friday, Oct. 26.
Thompson fell behind early in the first set, but was able to win three unanswered sets in a row, including a thrilling final set, to take down the Eagles.
The first set saw no breathing room for either team as both teams went point-for-point throughout the opening set with neither team gaining much of a lead until late.
After Oak Mountain took a 17-16 lead late in the set, the Warriors responded with a 2-0 run of their own to take an 18-17 lead, but then the Eagles responded with one of the biggest runs of the opening set.
It still went back-and-forth over the next few points, but the Eagles seemed to have more momentum and eventually gained a 24-21 lead in the set, giving them three set points.
Thompson staved off two of those set points to get within one at 24-23, but that’s when a kill from Leah Neilsen tipped the net and fell short of a Thompson player’s diving attempt to keep the set going, as the Eagles took set one 25-23.
A tightly-contested first set turned into a more interesting second set, as Oak Mountain built off the momentum of winning the first set and jumped out to a quick 7-3 lead.
From that point forward, the Warriors started chipping away at the lead to gain back some of that stolen momentum.
Thompson eventually tied the set at 12-12, before some more back-and-forth play began.
After another tie at 15-15, the Warriors really flipped a switch and went on a quick 3-0 run, before finishing the frame on a 10-4 overall to grab a 25-19 set win and tie the match at one set apiece.
Thompson used that built up confidence from the second set to spur a strong fourth set.
Oak Mountain was able to keep the set within striking distance up until 9-8, before the Warriors were unleashed for the remainder of the set.
Thompson eventually took a 16-10 lead before going on to win the set by a final of 25-14, the most dominant set win for either team up to that point, which gave the Warriors two unanswered set wins to pull in front 2-1.
While the Warriors had seemingly gained control of the match, Oak Mountain’s season was on the line heading to the fourth set, and that seemed to ignite a spark for the Eagles, who weren’t ready for their season to end.
Oak Mountain came out and rolled to an early 7-3 lead, before the set became tightly contested.
From a 7-7 tie, the set never saw either team hold more than a two-point lead the rest of the way, including five lead changes.
After falling behind 18-16, Oak Mountain was able to go on a 4-0 run to regain the lead at 20-18, which forced a Thompson timeout.
That seemed to work momentarily as the Warriors tied the match at 20-20 after two consecutive point wins.
The Eagles, however, jumped back up by two points at 22-20, and went on to earn two set points at 24-22, as it looked like they would keep their season alive for a fifth and deiding set.
Thompson, however, had no interest in another set, and went on to stave off the two set points, before capping off a 4-0 run to end the match with two final points to take the fourth set 26-24.
With the win, the Warriors ended Oak Mountain’s season and earned a spot in the area tournament championship, but more importantly Super Regionals.
In the area championship match shortly after against the host Hoover Buccaneers, Thompson looked to carry momentum over, but also had to deal with short rest, while the Bucs were fresh after get two hours of rest since their first-round win.
It showed in the first set as Hoover came out and dominated the front line looking fresh. Seemingly every time the Bucs got a clean set it ended in a lethal kill and point in their favor. With that strong presence up front, they went on to take the opening set 25-16.
Thompson, however, rebounded in the second set, and came out of the gates flying. The Warriors eventually gathered a 19-12 lead and looked like they were set to tie the match at one set apiece, but Hoover was able to slowly gain momentum back and let doubt creep into Thompson’s minds.
Hoover went on to eventually tie the set 22-22 before closing it out with a 13-4 run in a 25-23 set win to give the Bucs a 2-0 advantage.
With Thompson having played six consecutive sets dating back to the Oak Mountain match just before, the Warriors struggled to stay fresh in the final set, which led to Hoover’s easiest win of the match.
The Bucs went on to close the match out with a 25-12 win in the set to pick up a sweep and the area championship.
The championship loss doesn’t, however, overshadow the fact that Thompson punched a ticket to Super Regionals in Huntsville and is a win away from the state tournament.