After having Tallassee’s number all season, Stanhope Elmore looked to finish off a regular season sweep of the Tigers during Monday’s non-area volleyball matchup. The Mustangs appeared to be on their way to another victory when they erased a four-point Tallassee lead in the first set but the Tigers had other plans.
Tallassee (12-10) made some adjustments in its attack and it made the difference as the Tigers never trailed in the second set to force a tiebreaker. After falling behind 2-0 in the third set, Tallassee reeled off seven consecutive points and never looked back as it closed out the 22-25, 25-21, 15-6 victory to get a small taste of revenge against the Mustangs.
“We found a little hole in the other side of the court that we started picking on,” Tallassee coach Katie Rigsby said. “You stand over here and try to find how to score points because Stanhope is outstanding defensively and it’s hard to put a ball down. We found that hole and it gave us a boost in confidence. You always want your team to execute what you see so when I tell them something in a timeout and see them go do it, it was great to see as a coach.”
On senior night, the Tigers turned to their experienced players to show up in the big moments. Jordan Walters recorded six kills and recorded five aces, including one of each on back-to-back plays in the third set to extend Tallassee’s lead to 9-4, taking control of the match.
Walters also combined with fellow senior Sally Shipman for two big blocks in the third set to put away any chance of a comeback for the Mustangs. Shipman finished with three kills and three blocks.
“Those two are two that will step up and make plays for you,” Rigsby said. “When they are clicking and things are going their way, it’s fun to watch them. Usually your bigs don’t play the back row and it’s crazy how good they are back there. You can’t ask much more from them.”
In a game with 15 combined service errors, the service run from Tallassee senior Ivory Champion made the difference in the match. After Stanhope scored the first two points of the third set, Champion recorded her second kill of the match and then took over at the service line, leading the Tigers to their 7-0 run.
“It’s fun as a coach because we keep preaching to them you can’t miss serves from the service line,” Rigsby said. “That’s been a sore in my side all season. We have missed too many serves and I just beg them to get it in to the 30-by-30 court. When she made that run, it gave us a lot of confidence.”
Stanhope (8-15) could not find any consistency at the net and Tallassee took advantage of it. The Mustangs recorded only 13 kills on 57 attack attempts. Alex Green led with six kills while Kelbi Johnson added five to go along with three blocks.
“A few calls didn’t go our way that we felt should have gone our way,” Stanhope coach Virginia Barber said. “That’s going to happen. But Tallassee came out and played great for their senior night. I think they had a little bit of a chip on their shoulders because we have beaten them the last three times.”
Note: Pick up a copy of The Herald Oct. 16 to read more about the two teams' effort to raise funds for the Side-Out Foundation.