SAND ROCK – With volleyball’s postseason around the corner, Sand Rock coach Lisa Bates is excited to see where this Lady Wildcat team ends up come the end of the October, beginning with the area tournament on the 13th.
But first things first. She wants to see them wrap up the regular season strong.
On Monday night, Sand Rock hosted a tri-match with area rival Collinsville and Cedar Bluff on its senior night. The Lady Wildcats swept in both matches. They defeated Collinsville 25-6, 25-14, 25-5 to finish area play a perfect 6-0, then defeated Cedar Bluff 25-18, 25-19 to improve to 24-8 on the season.
Leading the Lady Wildcat charge on Monday night was their two seniors, Jacey Stephens and Jadyn Foster. Stephens collected 20 kills, 17 digs and five aces while Foster finished with 16 kills and 16 digs.
“They’re two good country girls,” Bates said. “They’re fun to be around. They’ve put a lot of time into their sports. They’re both multi-sport athletes.
“Jadyn I feel like is on loan to us from softball. She is such a gifted athlete. She can just do anything. She is really key for us. She does a lot of good things for us.
“Jacey has really fallen in love with this game. She plays travel volleyball and has really improved. I thought she had a really good night tonight as far as hitting. They’re both good kids who represent us well.”
It wasn’t just Stephens and Foster who had good nights for the Lady Wildcats.
Katelyn StClair contributed 24 kills and two aces. Rylin StClair added 63 assists and two aces. Chloe Stephens posted 36 digs and seven aces. Zoey Handy had six kills. Bethany Davis delivered nine digs, three aces and two blocks. Amber Day had 11 digs.
About the only drama the Lady Wildcats had for the night was in the Cedar Bluff match. The Lady Wildcats jumped out to a 9-1 lead in the first set and held a 14-6 advantage before the Lady Tigers scored six straight points to tighten things up at 14-12.
But like good teams do, Sand Rock went on a 9-0 run to stretch its lead to 23-12 before finishing things off.
In the second set, it was Cedar Bluff who held an early 10-4 lead before Sand Rock put things together. They went on an 11-3 run to take a 15-13 advantage, forcing Lady Tiger coach Lyndsey Barker Mullins to take a timeout.
“Sometimes I try to let them battle through that. You can’t let it get to you,” Bates said. “Everything we’re doing right now is focused toward what we need for the end. We need to learn to battle through and put a ball away and somebody say ‘Set me, I’ll put it away.’ I think one time we had five balls in a row we either hit out of bounds or in the net. I’m like ‘Okay, somebody say set me’ and put it away. We need that kind of circumstance. I was proud of them for not getting rattled and turning it back up.”
Cedar Bluff managed to keep things close down the stretch, but Sand Rock never relinquished the lead in earning the set and match win.
“That’s been the story of our season. We play well in spurts and then we don’t,” she said. “We played in the Fort Payne tournament and I felt like it was a turning point for us because we played really well. I thought we’ve figured this thing out and turned this corner, but I think we turned the wrong corner. We haven’t played like that since then.”
Against Sand Rock, Kindal Grace led the Lady Tigers with five kills and three digs. Ciana Smith tallied three kills and a dig. Mattie Payne posted eight digs. Rylie Walker added 10 assists. Lacie Roer managed three kills. Haley Allen had a pair of digs. Caley Bruce came away with a kill and a dig. Anslee Evans finished with a kill.
The Lady Tigers also defeated Collinsville 25-19, 25-16. In that match, Grace and Roer both delivered eight kills. Grace also had a pair of digs. Walker came away with 21 assists and three aces. Smith and Bruce both delivered four kills and an ace. Haley Allen added a pair of aces.
Sand Rock hosts Glencoe and Spring Garden on Tuesday. Cedar Bluff travels to Fort Payne.
“We have officially run out of time (to improve during the regular season),” Mullins said. “We’ve been talking all year it’s just August, then it was just September, then it was the end of September. Now we have two games left then postseason starts.
“Area is worrisome. We’ve been to regionals six years straight. It’s in jeopardy. We’re stuck in molasses somewhere I guess.”