Thompson, Spain Park compete in tri-match

By SETH HAGAN | For the Reporter

ALABASTER – The Thompson Warriors hosted a thrilling tri-match Thursday, Sept. 5, that featured three top-five programs, including county foe Spain Park, as each of the two teams took a win out of the match.

Thompson, the No. 4 team in Class 7A, took the first match against 3A No. 1 Montgomery Academy 22-25, 30-28, 15-10. The Eagles bounced back and took their match against 7A No. 5 Spain Park 17-25, 25-19, 15-13, before the Jaguars then took the nightcap from Thompson 25-18, 32-30.

The opening match between the Warriors (16-4) and Eagles set the tone for the evening as the momentum—and the lead—swayed back and forth.

Neither team led by more than two in the first set until the very end as Montgomery Academy edged Thompson with a 7-3 run to end things.

“I felt like there was a lot of dead energy and we weren’t playing with any rhythm,” Green said. “We made some adjustments on defense against their outside hitters and once we started digging the ball out we got into our flow on offense.”

The second set was an epic period between the two clubs, as the Eagles slowly built a 20-15 lead only to see it erased in the late going.

The Warriors fought off multiple match points and gradually the front line began to answer back to the Eagles’ attack and outlasted them to tie the match.

Kelsey Tangle was especially effective serving up three aces in the match and some timely trick kills to go along with 34 assists.

“We’re trying to make her more of an offensive setter,” Green said. “She’s 5-foot-11 you know, she gets up above the net and can get the balls on the ground too. As setters, they give so much to the other players that they forget sometimes they can score too and that’s what she did tonight.”

That flow would carry the Warriors through the remainder of the game as they built an early lead and kept Montgomery at arm’s reach the rest of the way.

Spain Park took advantage of a tired Montgomery Academy on short rest and jumped out early and held a sizable lead throughout, but, like Thompson, the Eagles adjusted and turned the tables.

The Jaguars kept it close in the final set, but couldn’t regain the momentum from earlier.

“They didn’t play their best game against Montgomery Academy and they knew it,” Spain Park head coach Kellye Bowen said after. “They bounced back against Thompson and they were resilient. Some points lasted over a minute, so great defense on both sides and good volleyball on both sides.”

The Jaguars jumped on the Warriors much like they did in the first match and didn’t relinquish the lead relying heavily on their size up front to put the Warriors on their heels.

The tag team of Paris Morris and Audrey Rothman combined for 19 kills in the match as the duo formed an imposing force the Warriors had trouble containing.

“Paris brings dynamic tools to the table and she’s been transitioning from the middle to an outside hitter,” Bowen said. “She has the ability to jump over blocks, hit through blocks and tonight she really showed how dynamic she is and was very effective.

Morris led all scorers with 23 kills on the night. Lexie Fowler also stood out on defense and led the team with 13 digs in the final match saving multiple would-be kills for Thompson.

“She is our bulldog,” Bowen said, smiling. “That’s what you want your libero to be like, scrappy. She was not letting anything touch the floor and I just think she did a phenomenal job, especially in that second set.”

Jessica Veal led all setters with 53 assists.

Other leaders for Thompson included Kolbi Reed with 17 kills and Bri Wilson with 28 digs, who also posted an impressive serve-receive pass percentage of 2.44.

Thompson, playing their 16th match in 13 days, didn’t go quietly in the final set and again fought off match points and had their chances to force a third and final set, but the hard charging Jags were too much.