Thompson sweeps TCHS in match for breast cancer awareness

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

ALABASTER – Donning pink jerseys, two teams joined together for one great cause in an important area volleyball matchup as the Thompson Warriors played host to the Tuscaloosa County Wildcats on Thursday, Oct. 3, to raise money for breast cancer research in conjunction with Shelby Baptist Medical Center.

With the match starting at 1:30 p.m. during the school day, students at Thompson were given the opportunity to end their school day early by purchasing a $2 ticket, which in-turn would be donated to breast cancer research.

And the students seized the opportunity, packing Warrior Arena for one of the largest crowds to ever see a match played at Thompson High School.

“We have the greatest fans anywhere around,” Green said. “The students really bought into what we were trying to do and it was really fun to play in front of a big home crowd like that.”

The extra lift from the crowd helped Thompson’s volleyball pull away for an easy 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-11) victory over the visiting Wildcats, but the day was about much more than a win or loss.

With each player representing someone currently battling breast cancer or having previously battled breast cancer, they were wearing more than a typical jersey representing their school; they were wearing a pink jersey with the weight of representing those battling a much deeper fight.

And with the day being about people off the court, Green also announced that one girl battling cancer was going to Disney World in front of the entire arena, which led to a special moment and a big ovation.

“We’re all grateful and humble to work with Shelby Baptist and the diagnostic center in hopes of giving back a little bit to our community and having a chance to honor people that fight a bigger cause than we do every day,” head coach Judy Green said. “Working with Tuscaloosa County and (head coach) Amanda Livingston was great. I’m thankful they wanted to be a part of this. The girls embraced it, the coaches embraced and we’re just grateful.”

When it came to the competition side of the match, Thompson took advantage of the big moment and the cause they were playing for and got off to a fast start.

The Warriors jolted out to a quick 8-2 lead in the set thanks to the adrenaline boost.

“Playing for a cause like that kind of gave us a little bit of a lift,” Green said after the match.

Tuscaloosa County battled back and made it a four-point set at 13-9, but from there it was all Thompson. The Warriors won the next six points in a row and ended up closing the set on a 12-2 run to pick up a 25-11 victory in the opening set.

“In the first set, we started out passing really well and were able to run our offense the way we wanted to,” Green said.

The second set, however, was a different story as the Wildcats looked to keep from falling into a 2-0 hole.

Thompson jumped out to a 9-6 lead, but Tuscaloosa County responded with a 4-1 run to tie the match at 10-10. From that point forward, neither team could hold a serve, which led to the two trading points back-and-forth up to a 20-19 lead for THS.

Finally, after earning serve back, the Warriors were able to win a service point behind the serve of Kelsey Tangle to grab a 22-19 advantage. With the Wildcats struggling to serve as well, they were unable to get any closer than two points over the next few points, which led to the Warriors eventually closing out the second set with a kill from Molly Willis that deflected off the Tuscaloosa County player’s hand and out of bounds.

“We just missed way too many serves in the second set,” Green said. “It’s rare you can miss that many serves and still win.”

Nonetheless, Thompson had taken a 2-0 lead in the match and knew what needed to be improved heading to the third set.

“We talked about it between the second and third set that we are better than what we had shown in the second set,” Green said. “We think we are one of the better serving teams in the state and we were able to show that in the third set.”

The Warriors were able to jump out to a 12-2 lead out of the gate thanks to five service points won from Tangle, two from Riley Parker and three from Kinsleigh Sabo.

Tuscaloosa County was never able to overcome that dominant start by Thompson as the Warriors eventually gathered match point at 24-11. After a Sabo serve was returned, Jamie Roberts stepped up and put away the match-winning point with a fierce kill.

Heading into the match, Thompson had hit a difficult stretch of play, but with the win, they improved to 24-11 overall this season and gained some confidence with less than three weeks until the area tournament.

Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com.