Breakthrough win: Thompson sweeps Hoover, Oak Mountain to claim area title

Published 11:43 pm Thursday, October 14, 2021

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Special to the Reporter

HOOVER – It was a long time coming, according to Thompson volleyball head coach Judy Green, but the Warriors broke out in a big way on Thursday night, Oct. 14.

After beating Oak Mountain in the opening round of the area tournament in straight sets to keep their season alive, the Warriors got a monkey off their back when they beat the Hoover Buccaneers in the area tournament championship to claim the Class 7A, Area 5 title.

“Well, [winning the area has] certainly been one of our goals for the season, you know, and I think that we had to go through a lot of experiences and a lot of adversity to get to this point,” Green said after the Hoover win. “I feel like we’ve been knocking on the door to making a breakthrough, and today, we opened the door and kept the door open.

“Oak Mountain is a great team, Tuscaloosa County is a good team, Hoover is a great team, you know, and every time we play, it’s a war. Tonight, we were lucky enough to be on the “W” side of that war.”

After Hoover beat Tuscaloosa County 3-1 in the first match of the day, Thompson took set one against Oak Mountain 25-21 in a tightly contested battle.

From there, the Warriors rode strong offensive play to a 25-14 second set victory, and then used the momentum to win the third set 25-14.

But the Warriors then turned right around to face host Hoover in the championship match—a team they haven’t beaten in years and lost to all three times this season.

“I think our whole season has done that for us,” coach Green said about their preparation for a doubleheader. “You know, there was a stretch where we played four matches in four days, in one week. And after that, we played two more, so we played six games, basically, in nine days. So I think that built some stamina, I think we had to get our rhythm back, and we finally got kids healthy, which is always important, to be as healthy as you can towards the end of the season.”

The first set was marked with multiple emphatic kills by the Bucs and several closely-contested balls at the net. Hoover tried to rally in the end, but Thompson’s offense sent the ball out of reach for successful kills to pull away and take the first set 25-18.

Hoover came out strong in the second set to take a 9-5 lead, but every time the Bucs looked like they were going to pull away, the Warriors responded to keep the set close.

Thompson was eventually forced to take a timeout down 22-20 before the two sides traded kills, eventually leading to set point for Hoover.

However, a massive block by the entire Thompson front row sent the serve the other way, which led to a Thompson kill to force extra points.

The Warriors failed to convert two set points before the Bucs sent a ball out of bounds on the Warriors’ third set point to give Thompson a 28-26 win and a 2-0 lead.

With an electric atmosphere carrying over from the end of the second set, Hoover opened the third set in almost the same way as the second and took a 16-13 lead into the first timeout.

Thompson, however, rallied again to force a 20-20 tie and another timeout.

Out of the timeout, the Warriors took the lead and never relinquished it. An ace set up match point, before a kill attempt went out of bounds to force chaos among the Thompson players, coaches and fans after completing a sweep of the Bucs.

Green said she was proud of how “resilient and mentally tough” her team was after they came back to win sets two and three, before beaming about the Warriors’ all-around effort tonight.

“Well, I’d like to say that I think it’s a true team effort tonight,” she said. “You know, this team is a really loving, joyful group of young girls, and when they play with passion and joy in their hearts, and they respect the game, they are really fun to watch play.”

Up next for the Warriors is super regionals in Huntsville on Thursday, Oct. 21. The Warriors will take on Vestavia Hills that morning.

“Well, I think right now, after tonight, we’re back to being 0-0 again,” Green said. “You know, it’s survive and advance, and you know, whatever team we end up playing in Huntsville for super regionals on Thursday morning, that team’s going to be hungry and they’re going to want to do the same thing that we want to do. So again, we just have to do what we do best and eliminate errors, and that gives us a good opportunity.”