Calera claims area championship in five-set thriller with Chilton County

Published 10:05 am Thursday, October 19, 2023

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

CALERA – After a thrilling back-and-forth title match, the Calera Eagles took the area championship with a 3-2 win over the Chilton County Tigers on Wednesday, Oct. 18 as they held off the Tigers down the stretch for a win in the final points.

Calera opened the match in front and took an 11-7 lead. However, Chilton County fought back and eventually tied the match at 17 to put the pressure on the Eagles.

Calera responded well and reclaimed the lead, and the Eagles saw out the set win. Calera won the first set, 25-20, to take an early edge in the title match.

The second set was tight to begin with as a 5-4 Chilton County lead was flipped into a 10-8 lead by Calera. The Eagles extended their lead to 16-12, but the Tigers roared back with a 7-1 run to take a 19-17 lead.

Calera briefly took a lead at 20-19, but Chilton County won five of the final six points to win 25-21 and even up the match at one set win piece.

Chilton County took that momentum into the third set and took a 14-10 lead, and they only turned up the heat from there by winning the next five points to go up 19-10. The Tigers then went on a 6-1 run to close the set and win the third set, 25-11.

After going down 2-1 in the match, Calera immediately responded with a 7-1 run to start the fourth set. The Eagles controlled the early stretch of the set and led 12-7 before Chilton County kicked off a comeback.

The Tigers tied the set at 18, and that led to a frantic back-and-forth stretch as Chilton County looked to seal the area championship and Calera fought to keep its title hopes alive. The teams remained deadlocked at 24, which sent the set into extra points.

Calera and Chilton County traded the next four points to force a third pair of extra points. With the Tigers sitting two points from victory, it was the Eagles who won the next two points to show up in a big way with the match on the line and win the fourth set, 28-26.

In the fifth and final set, the Eagles used the momentum from their fourth set finish and jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Chilton County threw a strong counterpunch in return and tied the set at 6. Calera retook the lead and went up 10-7, but Chilton County tied up the set again at 12.

With the match hanging in the balance in the final points of the match, Calera held strong and finished the job. The Eagles won three of the final four points to take the fifth set, 15-13, and the match, 3-2, to win the area championship.

Now that the Eagles have clinched the one-seed going into regionals, they will face Brookwood at the South Regional Tournament in Montgomery on Wednesday, Oct. 25.