Pelham improves to 5-2 with sweep of Hartselle

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

PELHAM – Replacing a lot of last year’s talent from an Elite Eight team, the Pelham Panthers were hoping to gain experience early in the 2020 season, but through their first seven games, they’ve done more than that.

Following a 4-2 start to the season, the Panthers got back to the court on Tuesday, Aug. 25, and extended that record to 5-2 with a 3-0 sweep of the Hartselle Tigers.

The win came at an opportune time, as Pelham bounced back from a 2-0 loss to Collierville to close out the Juanita Boddie tournament.

The Panthers went 3-1 at the challenging tournament in Hoover, however, with sweeps of Daphne and Grissom and a 2-1 win against Enterprise.

In the matchup with the Tigers, Pelham faced a challenge despite the final score of 3-0 with no set decided by more than six points and two of the three decided by three points or less.

And the opening set proved to be the most challenging. After the two teams battled to a 25-25 tie, staving off set points late, the Panthers were able to take a 28-27 lead.

With another chance to close it out, they capitalized and won the next point to take the opening set 29-27.

Leading 1-0 and coming off a hard-fought set victory, Pelham was confident to start the next set, but the Tigers never let the panthers out of their sight.

That led to another tightly contested set, but this time, the Panthers got to set point at 24-22 and didn’t want to take the risk of another late run from Hartselle. They won the next point and closed out a 25-22 set win for a 2-0 lead in the match.

Down 2-0, the Tigers needed to win three straight sets to pull off a comeback victory, but that hole and the Panthers knowing they only needed to win one more set was too much for Hartselle.

Pelham came out confident and loose in the third set, which led to the Panthers reeling off a couple of runs, including a late one to close out a 25-19 third set and complete the 3-0 sweep.

Elizabeth Hayhurst was a big reason for Pelham’s success in the win, as she totaled 13 kills to lead the team. Jaden Jones and Hannah Schmucker added eight and seven kills, respectively, for strong performances as well.

Amore Marshall led the team in serving with four aces on 14 service attempts, while Courtney Proffit had the most blocks.

Marshall also led the team in digs with 15, while Ariana Smith, Averi Smith, Jones and Shaw Walsh all had at least six digs in the win. Walsh also led Pelham with an impressive 28 assists