Oak Mountain sweeps Spain Park to finish area play undefeated
Published 12:21 pm Friday, September 29, 2023
By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor
HOOVER – Every showdown between the Oak Mountain Eagles and Spain Park Jaguars feels big because of the rivalry between the two nearby schools, but Thursday, Sept. 28’s clash contained even greater stakes.
Oak Mountain sat just a win away from finishing off a perfect 6-0 run through area play, which would clinch the regular season championship and award the Eagles with hosting rights for the area tournament. To reach that goal, however, they would have to beat Spain Park on the road after the teams played a five-set thriller at Oak Mountain earlier in the month.
The Eagles finished the job in emphatic fashion with a 3-0 sweep on the road to clinch the top seed.
Oak Mountain started the game on a 5-0 run, and the Eagles held on to that lead throughout the first set. While Spain Park kept the lead from falling out of reach, four straight points orchestrated by Saiya Patel on the serve gave the Eagles a chance to close out the 25-20 win.
The Eagles took a 1-0 lead in the match, and they began to turn up the pressure on Spain Park in the second set. The Jags were given a red card warning early in the set, and that point helped Oak Mountain jump out to an 8-2 lead.
However, Spain Park got right back into the game and cut Oak Mountain’s lead to 11-9 to force a timeout. The Jags would also later tie up the set at 16, and that was part of a brief back-and-forth stretch.
That was as close as Spain Park would come to leading as Oak Mountain went on an 8-1 run to end the set and go up 2-0 in the match.
The Jags knew they had to respond in the third set to keep their hopes of winning the match alive, and they did just that with a 5-0 run to start the set.
Oak Mountain rallied in response after a timeout to tie up the set at 6, and the teams traded blows through the next stretch of the match.
The Eagles pulled away again thanks to another service run from Patel, and Oak Mountain’s five-point swing gave them control of the match again late in the set.
Oak Mountain would go on to win the third set, 25-22, which sealed the straight-set sweep to cap off the perfect record and clinch hosting rights for the area tournament.
Since the Eagles will host the area tournament with Spain Park, Chelsea and Hewitt-Trussville on Thursday, Oct. 19, they will be able to use the next stretch of non-area games as preparation for the postseason. That includes Oak Mountain’s next match, which is a trip to Thompson on Tuesday, Oct. 3 in showdown of two of the top teams in Class 7A.
As for Spain Park, they will travel to Mountain Brook on the same day ahead of the Jags’ final area game at Chelsea on Thursday, Oct. 5.