Spain Park’s undefeated start continues with win against rival Hoover

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

HOOVER – When last year’s historic season ended with a state-championship loss against cross-town rival Hoover, the Spain Park Jaguars entered the 2021 season with redemption on their mind.

On Tuesday, Aug. 31, they took a step toward that redemption with a rematch with the Bucs in a regular-season rivalry battle.

In the first meeting since last year’s title bought, the two met looking to gain the upper hand early in the 2021 season, and while the Jags faced their first adversity of the season, they didn’t flinch.

Entering the match as the top-ranked team in Class 7A with a perfect record, Spain Park had yet to drop a set en route to its 13-0 record.

That changed early in the matchup with the Bucs, however.

In the opening set, Spain Park took a close battle for a while and built up a five-point lead at 20-15. Hoover cut it back to three points, but the Jags were able to win four of the final five points played in the set to pick up a 25-20 win.

That, however, led to a first for the Jaguars this season in the second set.

They started strong and seemed on their way to a 2-0 lead in the match after jumping out to a 7-2 lead in the set, but Hoover responded with an 8-0 run to take a 9-7 advantage.

The two battled back-and-forth from there to a one-point match all the way up to 18-17.

That’s when the Bucs flipped a switch and won seven of the next 10 points played to take the second set 25-20 and even the mate at one set apiece.

It also marked the first time Spain Park had dropped a set this season, with their streak ending at 28 consecutive sets won to start the 2021 season.

It put the Jaguars in a position they haven’t been in yet this season, but they didn’t waver from the unknown and looked prepared for what was to come next.

After falling behind 2-0 in the third set, they bounced back with a 5-0 run and looked much more like their usual selves.

Hoover still battled right alongside the Jags in the top-five battle, but an 8-1 run from the Jags eventually put them in front 16-10.

The Bucs battled back within two points at 18-16, but that was their final push of the set before Spain Park put the set away with a 7-1 run to regain the match lead at 2-1.

Playing in a fourth set for the first time this season, the Jaguars looked fresh early with a quick 8-3 run that was capped off by a long rally and an Audrey Rothman kill to get the fans and players energized.

Hoover, however, battled back yet again to get within two points on multiple occasions all the way up to 19-17.

But constantly playing from behind eventually wore down the Bucs, as the Jags closed the fourth set on a 6-1 run for a 25-18 set victory to close out the 3-1 win.

The Jags were strong in several facets in the win, including from the service line. As a team, they combined for eight aces with Rothman, Brooklyn Allison and Emily Breazeale all totaling two.

Rothman and Breazeal were also flawless at the net thanks to 28 and 18 kills, respectively, to lead the team. Rothman also added two blocks at the net, while Brooke Gober added three as well and Liv Myers led the team with three.

Allison led Spain Park with 10 digs, while Lilly Johnson led the team with 28 assists.

With the victory, Spain Park improved to 14-0 overall this season.