Chelsea’s win over Spain Park powers Hornets to strong tournament run

Published 11:41 am Tuesday, October 10, 2023

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

The Chelsea Hornets continued its strong run as they defeated the Spain Park Jaguars in a tight 3-2 win in five sets on Thursday, Oct. 5 before winning three matches at the Fort Payne Tournament on Saturday, Oct. 7.

Chelsea took the opening set 25-15 as the Hornets got out to a strong start to the match. That gave the Hornets momentum to start the match, but Spain Park quickly swung that into its favor.

The second set was tighter than the first as the Jags were within one point of forcing extra points. However, Chelsea finished strong on set point to win the second set, 25-23, and go up 2-0 in the match.

From there, Spain Park took a controlling lead in the third set to win the frame, 25-17, and the Jags carried that energy into the fourth set, which they won, 25-19, to even up the match.

Now in a fifth and decisive set, Chelsea recovered from losing back-to-back sets with tremendous fight to take the fifth set, 15-10, and seal the five-set victory.

Lauren Buchanan led the Hornets with 23 kills and earned seven digs and a +.319 hitting percentage. Haley Trotter had nine kills and Kaleigh Hall recorded eight kills and four blocks as Lila Willett earned four blocks as well.

Cara Belcher and MK Dojonovic split the setting duties, with Belcher earning 28 assists and Dojonovic earning 12. Sophia Bagley led the Hornets with 10 digs and Belcher earned eight digs as well as five aces.

The win over the Jags was Chelsea’s second straight, and the Hornets would extend that win streak to five games at the Fort Payne Tournament on Saturday, Oct. 7.

Chelsea opened the tournament with a 2-0 win over the Sylvania Rams. The Hornets got out in front in the match with a 25-20 first set win and they cruised to a straight-set win by winning the second set, 25-14.

In Chelsea’s second match of the day against the Sardis Lions, the Hornets won the first set, 25-15, before Sardis responded and tied the match with a 25-22 second set win. Chelsea bounced back with a 15-9 win in the third set to win the match, 2-1.

Afterwards, the Hornets sought to extend their win streak to five matches in a row against the Springville Tigers. Chelsea won the first set, 25-18, and it kept rolling in the second set to take it by a score of 25-17 and win the match in a sweep.

From there, Chelsea faced county foe Briarwood as the Hornets looked to keep their tournament run alive. Chelsea looked set to do just that with a 25-21 win in the first set, but the Lions came back and took the second set, 25-16, to even up the match.

The teams fought a close battle in the third set, and the match hung in the balance as the set went to extra points. Briarwood took both extra points to win the set, 16-14, and the match, 2-1.

Over the course of the tournament, Buchanan earned 51 kills, 22 digs and eight aces. Hall had 23 kills and four blocks, and Alexis Rudolph earned 12 kills, nine digs, four blocks and three aces.

Reagan Sartin led the Hornets with 35 digs while also earning four aces, Trotter was the team blocks leader with 10 total and Dojonovic had 34 assists and 18 digs for the day.

Belcher also had a strong day with 57 assists to take her over 100 assists for the week, and she also had 18 digs, 12 kills and seven aces.

Chelsea will return to action on Tuesday, Oct. 10 against Homewood as it prepares for the area tournament.