Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Hartselle High’s Shauna Clemons can’t quite dig a serve during the Morgan County volleyball tournament.
Drained Austin rallies for county title
By Brooke Milam
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2460
FLORETTE — In a day that saw a lot of high school volleyball fans and players coming and going through Brewer High's gymnasium, it was the Austin Lady Black Bears left standing Thursday at the Morgan County volleyball tournament.
Playing in a nine-team event that included pool play and a single-elimination bracket, the Lady Black Bears didn't drop a match all day. They clinched the championship with a 20-25, 28-26, 15-12 come-from-behind win over Hartselle in the finals.
Still, an emotionally and physically drained Austin squad saved a few breaths for celebration and pictures surrounded by a supportive and vocal crowd.
Austin last won the title in 2005.
The Lady Black Bears and Lady Tigers are now 2-2 against each other this season.
"Anytime you play Hartselle it's going to be hard-earned, and I'm proud of these girls," Austin coach Tina Lawrence said. "Our (junior varsity) won the junior varsity county tournament Tuesday, and these girls wanted to do the same thing."
Austin beat Danville 25-15, 25-15 to advance to the finals.
Hartselle eliminated Decatur 24-17, 20-25, 15-11 in the other semifinal match.
West Morgan and Decatur Heritage also advanced from pool play, while defending county champion Brewer, Priceville and Falkville were all eliminated after the opening series of matches.
The title-winning Lady Black Bears went 4-0 on the day, but their last match might have been their best.
"The more you play each other, it does get harder because you know each other so well, but there are advantages, too," Hartselle coach Tanya Lybarger said. "I don't think our girls ever gave up, but I do think they were tired and fatigue did set in."
Austin trailed in each of the three games of the final match.
The score was tied 8-8 in the first game before Hartselle went up 12-9 and never trailed again as it took the opening game.
The second game started out much the same, tied 6-6 early, but this time the Lady Black Bears came out on top through five tied scores and four lead changes, capped by Shara Foster's kill that earned the split and forced a third game.
Austin was down 4-1, 8-4 and 11-7 in the deciding game before mounting a comeback. Austin won four straight points to tie the score at 11-11 then took a 12-11 lead it would never give up.
Foster again had a kill that ended the match and sealed the county title.
Foster's 26 kills in four matches were a team high for Austin, followed by Brittney Smith's 18. Lindsey Rogers contributed 26 assists, while Shanise Foster had 22.
Shara Foster had a team-high 15 blocks and Shanise Foster had 10. Lindsey Fail had 13 digs, while Ali Barnette added 11. Shanise Foster had seven saves, and Smith had six aces.
Hartselle was paced in the finals by Chandler Orr's 11 kills, followed by Cory Livingston with seven. Cerra Little delivered a team-high 19 assists in the finals.
Shauna Clemons and Alex Holmes each had six digs. Livingston had three blocks, and Holmes and Little had two aces each.
For semifinalist Decatur in three matches, Whitney Fletcher led the Lady Red Raiders with 26 kills, while Quita Lyle followed with 17. Shannon Laughlin had a team-high 24 assists, and Kim Collis contributed 13. Kate Graham's 18 blocks were also a team high for the Lady Red Raiders, followed by Laughlin's six. Collis had four aces, and Fletcher had three.
Danville, last year's runner-up, played four matches and was paced by Alaina Fitzgerald's 28 kills, followed by Jordan Spinks and Lindsey Simmons with 22 each. Fitzgerald also led the Lady Hawks with 44 assists, while Kimberly Lindsey added 26.
Lacey Evans had a team-high 34 digs. Simmons had 11 aces, followed by Kirby Wallace with nine.
"Everybody wants to beat us, so it's nice when we can say, 'Hey, we did it,' " Lawrence said. "We are finished with regular season play so it's all tournaments from here on out, and anytime you can do well in a tournament, it keeps the momentum going."
Morgan County volleyball tournament
Champion: Austin. The Lady Bears last won the title in 2005.
Semifinalists: Decatur and Danville.
All-tournament team: Austin: Lindsey Rogers, Brittney Smith and Shara Foster; Brewer: Meagan Hormel; Danville: Alaina Fitzgerald and Jordan Spinks; Decatur: Whitney Fletcher and Shannon Laughlin; Decatur Heritage: Alexandria Ellsworth and Lou Ellen Thompson; Falkville: Megan Hill; Hartselle: Cerra Little, Dana Lacey and Chandler Orr; Priceville: Sumer Boyd; West Morgan: Kelley Seal and Sara Hulvey.
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