Oak Mountain overcomes late Hewitt-Trussville rally to sweep Huskies

Published 3:47 pm Friday, September 1, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – The Oak Mountain Eagles started strong and overcame a late rally to beat the Hewitt-Trussville Huskies in straight sets at home on Thursday, Aug. 31.

Oak Mountain coach Grace Burgess knew that Hewitt-Trussville had been dealing with injury problems, but still gave them props for the fight they brought down the stretch.

“They have some big injuries on their team, so they’re dealing with a lot and we’re dealing with a lot, too,” Burgess said. “But I think overall it was a really good match and I’m glad that we did it in three.”

While Oak Mountain won the first three points of the match, Hewitt tied the set up shortly after. The Eagles took a 7-5 lead, and they built it out from there starting with a Mabrey Whitehead kill to eventually go up 14-8.

The Huskies scores back-to-back points to cut the deficit to four, which is what the gap remained for most of the remainder of the set. Hewitt had multiple chances to close the gap on the serve, but they couldn’t take advantage and found themselves down 19-13 to the Eagles.

Oak Mountain took three straight points with a 22-14 lead to close out the set for a 25-14 win after an Eagles swing snuck through the block to the side on set point.

This time, it was the Huskies who started the set on a 3-0 run, but the Eagles quickly got on the board and kept the game close as the score hit 8-6.

Oak Mountain won the serve back on that point and tied the game a couple of points later on a well-placed kill on the backline by Ella Pierce. The Eagles would then continue their run to five straight points won and go up 12-8.

The Huskies would briefly draw within two, but Oak Mountain increased their lead to 18-12 after that. The teams would trade points, which kept Hewitt in striking distance after they blocked a swing with the Eagles leading 23-19.

Oak Mountain lost their first set point but put together a herculean effort to win their second chance with three great digs to keep the rally alive long enough for Hewitt to hit the ball into the net.

After the Eagles won the second set 25-20, both sides came out for the third set ready to go for a victory. The Huskies bounced back from losing the first couple points with eight straight to go up 8-2 before the Eagles stopped the run and went back-and-forth with Hewitt-Trussville.

Now trailing 13-9, Emma Hawkins helped Oak Mountain claw back within one, but the Eagles lost the serve on a missed dig to give the Huskies a 14-12 lead.

On the next point, a reversed call gave Ava Heath a service run, and with the chance to take the lead, she dug out a shot which led to a Lauren Schuessler kill to go up 15-14.

Hewitt would immediately take back the lead on the next two points, but Mabrey Whitehead tied up the game again on a kill. A hitting error by the Huskies gave Oak Mountain the lead back.

Now up 18-16 off an Emma Claire Jones ace, the Huskies put up another stand before the Eagles took the lead off another Whitehead kill.

Oak Mountain would then extend their lead to 22-18 off a great dig from Anna Dubose that Whitehead took for a point.

Hewitt-Trussville called a timeout and rattled off three straight points to cut the Eagles’ lead to 22-21. From there, Oak Mountain won back-to-back points to set themselves up on match point at 24-21, but the Huskies surged back with three straight points to force extra points.

In extra points, Oak Mountain recovered from the quick Hewitt-Trussville run and won both extra points to win the set 26-24 and secure the sweep win.

After the game, Oak Mountain coach Grace Burgess complimented her team’s resolve down the stretch as an improvement from past games.

“I’m proud of them. Normally in the third set, they either think that they don’t have to play very hard or they don’t want to play very hard. And neither one of those showed up tonight. So their grit and resilience to win in three is big for them. And that’s a win in itself.”

While Burgess and the Eagles are still moving players around the floor, she believes that Oak Mountain showed once again in the first couple of sets that they can start strong with great serving and hitting to catch their opponents off-guard.

“We serve really hard and I think it’s hard to adjust to that if you are the other team,” Burgess said. “They figured it out, and by set two and set three, they were passing much better, but that’s where we always have the advantage in that one because we just serve really, really hard.”

Oak Mountain will face Homewood at home on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. for their next game after Labor Day weekend.