Pelham sweeps rival Helena for area win

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

PELHAM – The first month of the 2020 volleyball season has featured some up-and-down play for both the Pelham Panthers and Helena Huskies leading into their first matchup with one another on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

But when the two rivals squared off against one another at Pelham High School, the Panthers were able to capitalize on recent success to pick up their third win in the last four matches.

The Panthers used strong play throughout and a growing sense of confidence to pick up a 3-0 sweep of the visiting Huskies. With the win, Pelham has now won three consecutive area matchups, all via 3-0 sweeps.

Helena, however, has gone in the opposite direction after recently winning four matches in a row. The Huskies have since gone 1-3 over their last four games.

The good news is that the only area loss in that stretch was to Pelham, while the others were also to very good Grissom and Hartselle teams.

Early against the Panthers, Helena held its own in what was a tight set to begin the rivalry match.

In the early going, neither team created much separation in the opening set, which led to the tightest game of the night.

Pelham, however, was able to put together clutch play down the stretch, which is something they have been getting better at each week with a young team.

The Panthers went on to close out the set for a 25-21 four-point victory to open the night.

With that win, Pelham’s confidence only grew, while Helena struggled to find the same composure the rest of the night against a Panthers’ team that was highly efficient.

Pelham pulled out to a strong lead in the second set, before eventually pulling away for the easiest win of the night by a final of 25-15.

Early in the final set, it was obvious the Panthers knew they had the momentum and a chance to close the match out with a sweep.

They jumped out to a 4-0 lead and took advantage of Helena struggling to hold serve. Through their first seven points, the Huskies only won two serves, while Pelham won six in that same span to give the Panthers an early 11-7 advantage.

Helena stayed within four points at 13-9, but Pelham responded with a 3-0 run to take a 16-9 lead.

Down 2-0 in the match, that put the Huskies in a tough spot searching for confidence.

But after the Panthers gave the ball back to the Huskies at 16-10, Helena couldn’t hold serve, while Pelham went on to win three serves in a row for a 20-10 lead.

The Huskies went on to win six of the next 11 points after that, but at 24-16, the Panthers closed out a 25-16 final set to complete the 3-0 win.