Judy Green earns 1,000th win as Thompson tops Briarwood

Published 3:11 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

ALABASTER – Thompson Warriors coach Judy Green knew that there was a strong chance that Tuesday, Aug. 29’s tri-match against the Briarwood Christian Lions and the Montgomery Academy Eagles would bring two celebrations of Thompson stars reaching the 1,000 mark.

Thompson planned to honor setter Olivia Kelly reaching 1,000 career assists at the River City Classic in Memphis over the weekend, but with one win in Thompson’s two matches at the tri-match, Green would reach 1,000 career wins as a coach.

Even though Green knew she was likely to reach that milestone on Tuesday, she wanted all of the focus to be on Kelly, so she planned for a ceremony to honor her before their match against Briarwood.

That was the only ceremony she planned on. The Thompson staff, on the other hand, planned for two.

Thompson surprised her with flowers, a video board graphic and balloons spelling out 1,000 just like Kelly received after she reached the milestone with Thompson’s straight sets win over Briarwood.

After the game, Green gave thanks to ACS superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers, assistant superintendent Dr. Wesley Hester and THS principal Michael Lee for bringing her to Thompson, as well as all of the players who carried her along the way.

“All 1,000 of those wins belong to the players that were on teams that I was fortunate enough to coach,” Green said. “It’s really their wins. I’m just the one that’s organizing them and trying to get them ready to play and compete.”

Thompson opened their match against Briarwood with a 4-2 lead, and they went on a 10-3 run afterwards to open up the set and extend their lead to 14-5.

With the Warriors’ lead now 16-6 going into a Briarwood timeout, Thompson won five of the next six points to pull ahead to a 21-7 lead in the set.

After Thompson came within two points of closing out the set thanks to a 23-8 lead, Briarwood clawed back a pair of points before Thompson earned a chance at set point.

On set point, Sara Grace Smith earned a crucial dig to save the point, and Ella Southern followed that up with a kill close out the set with a 25-10 win.

In the second set, the Warriors jumped out to another early lead and went up 4-1 before a dominant serving run by Kenzly Foote which included kills from Southern and Chloe Mittelstadt to go up 11-3 before the Lions called timeout to stop the run.

Thompson continued their dominance after the timeout once Bradli Davis hit the service line, as the Warriors scored seven straight points to extend their lead to 18-6.

Briarwood battled from there with back-to-back points, and the Lions won the serve back multiple times and found some offense when they had it, but a big kill from Maddie Baxley was enough to give the Warriors control of the ball until the end.

Alexa Fulcher stopped Briarwood from making another trip to the serve line with a block that led to a Southern kill, and then the Warriors secured match point from a Lions hitting error to win the set by another score of 25-10.

Before their game against Briarwood, Thompson got off to a slow start against Montgomery Academy, but they recovered in the first set with eight straight points before losing the set, 25-20.

They also won the second set, 25-15, and battled back in the third set to tie the match late, but a Thompson service error gave the Eagles the chance to close out the match with a 15-13 third set win.

Green believed that Thompson has been feeling the opposite of a home-court advantage as the dominance that they showed at the River City Classic didn’t translate into the opening sets in their first two home matches.

“I feel like we’re not comfortable playing at home in front of our family and our friends,” Green said. “I don’t know if we’re just super nervous in the first set. It kind of happened against Chelsea too. When you start off, you don’t give yourself any rhythm or any confidence when you go down, 1 to 6, that’s a tough hole. We had the ability to battle back. We have no problem doing that, but it’s a matter of just getting out to a better start at the beginning of the match.”

Across Thompson’s two matches, Mittelstadt led the Warriors with 14 kills and a .294% attack percentage, while Baxley was close behind with 12 kills and a .273% attack percentage.

On the night of the ceremony honoring her, Kelly added 39 assists to her career total to help Thompson hit for .200 over both matches.

On defense, Foote led the way with 23 digs from the libero position, and she also passed 2.38 while receiving serves. Defensive specialist Savannah Young finished just behind Foote with a 2.33 passing average while helping the Warriors’ sideout offense.

Up next, Thompson will take the road for a big test against Auburn on Thursday, Aug. 31 at 5:30 p.m.