Panthers pushed back in showdown for control of area

Published 6:53 pm Friday, October 4, 2013

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Net game: Jemison’s Ashley Dutton (41) tries to get a ball past the Calera net defense during a match on Thursday.Net game: Jemison’s Ashley Dutton (41) tries to get a ball past the Calera net defense during a match on Thursday.

In a battle of volleyball area unbeatens, the Jemison Panthers traveled to eighth-ranked Calera Thursday night with a chance to take sole possession of first place in Class 4A, Area 7.

JHS fought hard, especially in the final set, but came up just short in taking a 15-25, 12-25, 24-26 loss at the hands of the Eagles.

“Calera is a very well coached team, and it’s always a competitive atmosphere when we play each other,” Jemison coach Leighsa Robinson said.

In the opening set, the Panthers (9-9) were plagued by 11 errors, most coming on the net attack. The lone bright spot for Jemison was Wendy Spigener’s performance at the service line, going 5-for-5 with three aces.

Game 2 saw more of the same for JHS, with the Panthers committing a total of 16 errors, but this time the majority came on serve receive miscues.

C.C. Wright came on strong in the late stages of the game, putting down kills in three straight attacks.

It looked like Jemison would pull the match to within one game in the final set, taking a 12-10 lead that would go back and forth until the end.

Cassani Steele and Denten Ellison combined for five kills and three blocks to pace the Panther attack, but it was too little, too late as the Eagles took the win and the match.

Wright led JHS with six kills, while Steele added three kills and four blocks.

Ellison contributed four kills and three digs, and Emily Spain dished out eight assists.

“This season has shown its ups and downs,” Robinson said. “We are 6-2 in regular season matches, the two losses coming against Isabella and Calera. The majority of our losses have come in tournament play versus some pretty good competition.

“Our goal is to not make the same mistake twice–correct the ongoing mistakes and build on our strengths.”

Jemison travels to Columbiana on Saturday for the Shelby County High School Invitational, facing SCHS, Thorsby and Midfield in pool play before the tournament advances to single elimination play in the afternoon. The Panthers open the tournament against the host squad at 9 a.m.