Pelham sweeps Calera in area win

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

PELHAM – With a young roster coming into the season due to the loss of the majority of their starters, the Pelham Panthers seem to be hitting a stride at the right time of the season.

After a strong showing in a weekend tournament, the Panthers came back on Tuesday, Sept. 22, for a 3-0 sweep in an area match with county foe Calera.

The Panthers won each set by at least nine points (25-16, 25-14, 25-13) in the dominant effort to continue a season of growth. At this rate, it looks as if they’ll head into the last few weeks of the season with confidence ready for another playoff run.

Against the Eagles, Pelham opened with a strong effort to set the tone early in the match. After falling behind 5-4 in the early going, the Panthers finally warmed up and reeled off five points on serve to take a 10-5 lead.

But Calera had a quick response in the opening set, winning four service points in a row to even the score again at 10-10.

After the score reached 12-11 in favor of Pelham, the Panthers got the serve back and reeled off five more points on serve to retake a strong lead at 18-11.

Calera pulled back within three points at 18-15, but once the Eagles relinquished the serve back to Pelham, the Panthers won five more service points to make it 24-15. Two points later, they closed the set out at 25-16 to take a 1-0 lead.

From there, Pelham’s confidence soared.

The Panthers continues strong play on serve in the final two sets starting with a strong stretch in the second set that made the difference.

After taking an 8-4 lead, Pelham won the next seven points on serve for one of its best stretches of the night to open up a 15-4 advantage in the set.

It became a more back-and-forth set after that, but trading off points didn’t help the Eagles in a comeback attempt as the Panthers closed out a 25-14 victory to extend their match lead to 2-0.

In the final set, all but two of Pelham’s players to step to the service line won at least one point, while the Eagles only won four service points the entire set.

That led to the Panthers pulling away yet again for a 25-13 win in the third set to improve each set of the match and pull off a 3-0 sweep.

Pelham put together a balanced attack in the win with nine different players having a kill. Hanna Schmucker and Elizabeth Hayhurst led the way with seven, while Victoria West added five.

Amore Marshal and Tammy Melendez led at the service line with an impressive five aces each, while Jaden Jones, Shay Walsh and Schmucker all had two aces. Melendez also led the team with nine digs, while Marshall, Hayhurst and Jones all had four.

Taylor Evans had another strong match leading the Panthers in assists with 21.