At Plunkett/Wallace Gymnasium - Boaz:
Wallace State 25 25 25
Snead State 20 12 21
Wallace State (5-0, 1-0) wins match 3-0
Time of Match: 1:03
FLASH NOTES: No matter where they play on the road, Wallace State volleyball coach Randy Daniel knows his Lady Lions will face a hostile atmosphere, due to their credibility of winning nine straight ACCC championships and coming into the 2018 season 16th ranked in the NJCAA.
Having to play an undefeated Snead State squad Wednesday evening, the Lady Lions answered the challenge in their first game they have played this young season in the state of Alabama.
Wallace State went last weekend to Spartanburg, South Carolina and came home 4-0 in the Spartanburg Methodist Invitational.
Before playing Wallace, Snead State swept Bevill State 25-8, 28-26 and 25-11 in an hour and five minutes.
Momentum was well in the grasp of Angie Sanders' Lady Parsons, featuring a freshman that is talented as is former Fairview standout McKinna Yearwood.
A close game one that was back and forth was finally locked down by Wallace State after a serve from Yearwood went long, giving the Lady Lions a point to make the score 21-17.
Two kills by Alex Wiggins and one from Madison Turner enabled the Lady Lions to claima 25-20 triumph in trying to keep Snead's momentum at bay.
The Lady Lions were able to put together a good effort in game two, controlling the game by building a large lead. Lexie Riggins scored on a serve and Wallace was ahead 19-10.
Snead could never stop the aggressive attack by the Lady Lions in the set and bowed by the final of 25-12.
Kaitlyn Doyle closed out game two for the Lady Lions with a kill, getting a good pass from McKenzie Boland to finish the play.
Snead roared back and went ahead in the third set 8-5. The Lady Lions stayed calm under pressure and jumped in front at 12-9.
With Yearwood having a kill and a volley that was a much needed spark, the Lady Parsons surged back on top at 14-13.
Then Boland went to work on the service line for the Lady Lions, connecting on three in a row and it was 17-15.
Snead fought through adversity and got within 23-21 on two kills from sophomore Megan Zuck.
Wallace broke Snead's service game as a kill by Maya Jones, then a service point from Wiggins completed a well earned conference victory.
"Snead is much improved than they were last year," coach Daniel replied. "We were consistent tonight. We are communicating better."
In the Snead-Bevill match, the Lady Parsons were on the brink of losing the second set when they trailed 24-21 and Bevill was serving for set point.
The Lady Parsons rallied and would claim the set 28-26, then blow by the Lady Bears in the third game 25-11.
Yearwood was an impact player in game three. The 2017 Cullman County Tournament MVP scored straight points to break open a close encounter with Snead going 1-0 in conference play and winning its fifth straight to open the season.
Up next for Wallace: At Coastal Alabama (Bay Minette) Friday
Up next for Snead: At Pensacola Tournament Friday & Saturday
Photo 1: Wallace State Lady Lions during National Anthem before game with Snead.
Photo 2: Snead's McKinna Yearwood (15) walks on the court with her teammates before opening set with Bevill State.
Photo 3: Wallace State's Courtlyn Barber (23) ready while coaches Randy Daniel and Kheala Beck are on the bench vs. Snead.
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton
FLORETTE - A dozen AHSAA volleyball teams received Southern hospitality in the Brewer High Invitational Saturday, signifying the start of the 2018 Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) season.
Three were from the Cullman County school system. Defending county champion Fairview Lady Aggies, plus the Good Hope Lady Raiders and Holly Pond Lady Broncos, went through a round-robin schedule.
Good Hope claimed second in Pool B with Fairview the runner-up in Pool C. That put the Lady Raiders and Lady Aggies into the tournament stage in the late afternoon.
Pool play standings:
Pool A: Brewer 3-0, Athens 2-1 Belgreen 1-2, Elkmont 0-3.
Pool B: Muscle Shoals 3-0, Good Hope 2-1, Decatur Heritage 1-2, Holly Pond 0-3.
Pool C: Deshler 3-0, Fairview 2-1, Austin 1-2, Athens Bible 0-3.
Both Good Hope and Fairview started pool play 2-0 before losing in their finale that dropped the pair to second and a matchup against one another in the tournament round.
Good Hope defeated a strong Decatur Heritage squad 25-18, 25-21, then outplayed Holly Pond 25-20, 25-8 before Muscle Shoals swept the Lady Raiders 25-22, 25-17.
Fairview toppled Austin 25-17, 25-16, fought off Athens Bible 25-14, 20-25 and 15-13. Deshler handed the Lady Aggies a 25-23 and 25-16 setback in the early afternoon.
Holly Pond played competitive in its three assignments, but was unable to move into the win column, losing in straight sets to Good Hope, Decatur Heritage and Muscle Shoals.
Fairview and Good Hope do have valuable experience back in 2018, despite losing key personnel to graduation. Coach Tracy Means' Lady Aggies were anchored by veterans Katie Ball and Micah Means, plus got good play Saturday from Daisy Manasco, Alivia Boyll, Tess Bailey, Isabella McGukin and Sarah Bryan.
Good Hope no longer has Kate Kent, Abby Knight and Leyton Seal. Each have graduated, but Natasha Holcombe's Lady Raiders have experience in Chrissi Smith, Skylar Tucker, Jesse Kent, Savanna Burney and look for contributions from Alee Jackson, Abby Neighbors, Madalyn Williams and Riley Smith.
For Holly Pond, coach Emily Brown is senior strong with Tess Duke, Kara Hollis, Sydney Dunkin, Maddie Heatherly, Cassie Carter and Lili Harris.
The Lady Broncos received depth during the summer when Ashley Duke transferred from St. Bernard Prep and made an impact in two close games with Decatur Heritage.
Tournament host Brewer has half a dozen seniors that set the tone in sweeping the opposition in Pool A. Coach Amy Keel features McCarley Northway, Joan Lang, Carly Fairbanks, Molly Rice, Brianna Causey and Madison Adams, entering the final season in a Brewer uniform.
Regular season play locally begins on Tuesday.
Cold Springs & Vinemont will play in a tri-match at Fairview, Cullman is in a tri-match with Randolph and Guntersville at Guntersville, Good Hope takes a trip to Priceville, Holly Pond plays at Boaz.
On Thursday, Cold Springs visits St. Bernard, Vinemont & West Point are in a tri-match at Good Hope, Fairview heads to Sardis, Cullman entertains Austin & Winfield in a tri-match, Brooks and Mortimer Jordan play a tri-match at Hanceville.
All schools in the county will be off next weekend for the Labor Day holiday period.
Photo 1: Good Hope coach Natasha Holcombe and team captain Chrissi Smith (25) prior to match with Holly Pond Saturday.
Photo 2: Fairview's Katie Ball waiting for Austin to serve the ball across the net.
Photo 3: Holly Pond coach Emily Brown directs Lady Broncos in game with Good Hope.
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton
5th Annual Run N Ref Sports
At Columbia High School - Huntsville:
FLASH NOTES: Putting together a roster that was 70 percent of local players, Team Cullman made a name for itself in the Elite Class of this showcase.
Under the direction of former Fairview coach Branch Whitlock, the squad came within a field goal of going undefeated during a three-game schedule on the Columbia High School campus.
Cullman opened up claiming a hard fought 50-45 victory over Ardmore, then edged the Alabama Explosion in overtime 63-60.
The finale with the Blackhawks was down to the wire as well, but this was pulled out by the Blackhawks 65-63.
The setback did not take away the job Whitlock did in having players come together and form a solid unit that made the trip from Cullman to Huntsville enjoyable.
Whitlock hadthree of his former Fairview players, PG Luke Yarbrough, F Bryson Fletcher and F Austin Turner, plus West Point SG Kolton Sapp and Cullman G Nic Williams, with two others.
Each raised their level of play from game one through the third game vs. competitive athletes represent Limestone County and the Tennessee Valley.
Cullman and Ardmore played to a first half shootout with Cullman taking a 33-26 halftime lead. The scoring slowed down in the second half, but Cullman was able to fight back Ardmore and start the day victorious.
Against the Explosion, Cullman looked at a 21-14 first half deficit, then made adjustments and went on a 21-13 run for the remainder of the period, jumping in front at the break 35-34.
Victory was well in hand with Cullman leading 59-51 inside the final 3:00 before a strong run by the Explosion tied the game at 59-59 and forced overtime.
Cullman got points by Yarbrough and Fletcher in the extra 3:00, earning it against an opponent that displayed speed and agility.
Following a rest, Cullman geared up for the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks held an advantage in size on the low post, but not as far as heart and desire.
Cullman got good shooting from the perimeter by Sapp, Yarbrough and Fletcher with Williams creating opportunities by penetrating and Turner delivering around and away from the basket.
In the final 3:00, the game was tied three times and the lead swapped a couple of times as the Blackhawks went up 60-57 with 0:50 remaining.
Cullman could never get the lead or get it tied, but had a chance in the final second when Yarbrough tossed the ball toward the goal 60 feet away. It bounced off the back of the rim as time expired in a game the Blackhawks never thought would be as challenging as it was.
A feature attraction for the event was in the late afternoon of a Pro Am session. This matched current vs. former collegiate players.
A Cullman squad was created for this stage, led by former Bearcat and current Alabama hoopster Lawson Schaffer. Joining him to provide good skills in the backcourt was current Wallace State Lion Xavier Malcom. Fletcher, who has signed with Coastal Alabama Bay Minette participated as did future Wallace State Lion Dylan Finch of Cullman, Whitlock, current Good Hope assistant coach Justin Aby, former Jacksonville cager Tyler Penn and future Georgia Southwestern player Andre Tatum.
They met a Huntsville area team called the Legends. Among the members included former Auburn player Quantez Robertson, ex-Stillman college players Robert Langham and Jeff Wherry, Chuck White of Tennessee Wesleyan, Kenny Belt of LB Wallace, Ollie Felps of Oakwood College and Darrion Leslie of University of Pikeville.
Team Cullman got the tip with Schaffer launching a three to give them the lead. Several minutes later, Malcom tossed in two treys and Aby contributed to the scoring with Cullman getting ahead by the score of 17-9.
The Legends woke up, with scoring from the perimeter and inside, getting the margin cut to 21-20 after the first quarter. The Legends went ahead 47-42 at the half and was on top 73-66 following the third period.
Cullman was never to reduce the margin to under four points and a few dunks in crunch time by the Legends closed out a 102-93 victory.
Felps ripped the cords for 28 points to lead the Legends, Belt added 18, Leslie had 16 and Langham finished with 15.
Tatum showed his scoring skills, collecting a game high 29 points, 18 in the second half to top the Cullman attack. Aby was super with 19, Malcom added 18, Schaffer scored a dozen and handed out five assists, Finch netted 10, Fletcher five and Penn tallied two.
Cullman, for the game, scored 35 field goals, five treys and was 12 of 17 from the line. The Legends knocked down 33 shots, eight treys, but were only 12 of 19 at the stripe. The three pointers were the difference in a hotly contested game.
Photo 1: West Point SG Kolton Sapp (Photo by Johnny Thornton)
Photo 2: Alabama guard Lawson Schaffer (Photo by AL.com)