Briarwood upsets Vestavia Hills in five-set fight

Published 6:57 pm Monday, September 11, 2023

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – Briarwood took a massive win on their home court on Thursday, Sept. 7 with a win over local foe Vestavia Hills, and the match went down to the wire as each team gave the other its best shot.

The game hung in the balance until the very end, but it was Briarwood’s fight in extra points in the fifth and final set that made the difference and tilted the contest the Lions’ way.

The first set was a tightly fought contest, with both teams in the battle to win the set and go up 1-0 in the series at the end.

Ultimately, even though the Lions were within a point of forcing extra points, Vestavia Hills held off Briarwood and won the first set, 25-23.

Briarwood battled back in the third set, and even though the set was close as well, the Lions were in the driver’s seat with the lead in the closing points.

The Lions sealed the deal on a 25-21 second set win to tie up the match and set the tone for a back-and-forth battle until the end.

Briarwood kept the momentum going in the third set and started to take control of the match. The Rebels hung in the action until the end, but it wasn’t enough to earn the lead in the match.

Briarwood took the third set, 25-20, as they won their second straight set to take a 2-1 lead in the match and put the favored Rebels on their heels.

Vestavia Hills immediately responded from being pushed to the brink with an impressive fourth set as they opened up a lead on Briarwood and got out to a comfortable margin.

The Rebels would earn a 25-15 win in the fourth set to even up the match and force a fifth set to decide the contest.

Both teams answered the bell for the final round and delivered their best shots as the Lions and Rebels both sought a victory in the match.

Briarwood and Vestavia fought their way to extra points, but one round wasn’t enough. With the match now tied at 15 in the second round of extra points, Briarwood took both points to put Vestavia away for good.

Briarwood won the final set, 17-15, which finished out an incredible 3-2 win over Vestavia Hills thanks to a tremendous final stand from the Lions.

Stella Helms led the Lions with 23 kills from 60 attempts for a +.233 hitting percentage. She also won three aces and secured 14 digs to help out Briarwood around the court.

Leighton Hendley also hit the ten-kill mark for Briarwood, and Julie Roberts was right behind her with nine kills, which was good enough to hit for +.269.

Sophia Seale made the difference on the service line thanks to her winning six of Briarwood’s 14 aces on the night, with Caroline Jones also winning three aces to make a difference as well.

Jones was a force defensively for the Lions as she earned 29 digs across the five sets, and she also earned nine assists. Coleen Lehane and Mia Wilson split the assist numbers, with Lehane racking up 26 assists and Wilson earning 17 of her own.

Elsewhere for the Lions, Seale earned ten digs to complement her serving numbers, and Lehane and Wilson each earned digs on defense. Clara Crawford hit for +.286 thanks to her five kills, and Briarwood as a whole hit for +.142.

Next up for the Lions, they will take on Pelham on Tuesday, Sept. 12 in the first of their two area matches for the week as they open up area play.