Helena beats Calera to take two-match series

Published 9:13 am Tuesday, September 12, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

CALERA – While the Helena Huskies and Calera Eagles faced off on the court for the second time of the week on Thursday, Sept. 7, the result was secondary to what the entire day was about.

Throughout the night, Calera honored the memory of Brayden Ray, a 15-year old Calera High student and football player who died in a car accident over Labor Day weekend.

Before the JV match, Calera held a ceremony and a moment of silence for Ray. Brayden’s sister, Mattison, is a freshman hitter for the Eagles, and played in her first match since her brother’s passing.

“Brayden Ray, an Eagle, a student at Calera High School, number 29 on the football team, a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin, a friend and a classmate, who will forever be in the hearts and thoughts of all,” the speech during the ceremony read. “Brayden will forever soar high on wings like Eagles.”

The Eagles wore white during both matches to honor Ray, and they wore shirts with Ray’s number 29 on the back during prematch warmups. Calera also displayed his jersey in the gym and had a banner in his memory hanging during the matches.

In the varsity match, Helena came out strong and established themselves early as the Huskies won 25-9.

With the Huskies now up 1-0 in the match, the teams played a close second set as they sought the upper hand in the match, and Helena took the frame with a 25-17 win to increase their lead to 2-0.

In the third set, Calera jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but Helena went on an 8-0 run to earn the lead for good in the set. The Huskies would later use the service line to build out their lead with multiple aces, including back-to-back aces from Monroe Bouler, who had four on the night.

After Helena took a commanding 20-6 lead, Calera battled back with a pair of point wins, but the Huskies won the final three points to close out the third set with a 25-8 win and secure their second sweep of Calera in three days.

After the match, Helena coach Amanda Livingston complimented the improvement that she saw from her team.

“They did really well,” Livingston said. “They practiced a lot of the faster tempo stuff that we do in practice and they really just played together.”

Going forward, Livingston wants to work on their resiliency when they face adversity like they did at times during the match.

“When Calera would get a couple of points on us, some of our energy would kind of dip,” Livingston said. “So I think we need to work on how to push through when other opponents and other teams start to get an advantage on us.”

Haley Deifenderfer led Helena with 14 kills in addition to her two aces, two digs and a block. Marie Jones had nine kills and Addison Dockery had both eight kills and eight digs.

Kylie Scoles had great success while directing traffic for Helena as she earned 28 assists, and she also assisted the defense with eight digs. Presley Lively led the Huskies in digs with 11 as the defense had a strong day.

Up next, Helena will play in the Warrior Challenge at Thompson High School on Sept. 8-9, and Calera will face Leeds on the road on Monday, Sept. 11.