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Panthers take second place in Silver Bracket of tournament

The Jemison Panthers opened the 2015 volleyball season Aug. 29 by taking part in the Carbon Hill Lady Bulldog Invitational, a tournament that annually boasts some tough competition between some of the state’s top 1A-5A teams.

JHS held its own in the tournament, taking second place in the Silver Bracket after playing a grueling schedule that saw the Panthers play six matches in a matter of only nine hours of Saturday-only play.

Jemison opened the day by taking its closest win of the tournament, dropping the first set to Corner High School before battling back for a 24-26, 25-15, 15-11 victory.

Cassini Steele and Hannah Northcutt led the offense with six kills apiece, while Emily Spain added five kills and 12 assists. Steele also posted a pair of blocks, and Taylor Ray had five kills and 12 digs.

In the second contest of the day, the Panthers fell 15-25, 13-25 to a tough Marion County squad.

Steele again led JHS with six kills, but Jemison could not overcome a total of 32 attacking, serving and receiving errors in taking the loss.

JHS then faced the task of taking on perennial power Carbon Hill, and despite eliminating many of the errors from the previous match, fell by a 17-25, 18-25 margin.

Steele contributed seven kills, while Spain and Northcutt combined for 13 assists and Camille Hague posted three service aces to keep the Panthers in contention.

With three teams in pool play tied with a 1-2 mark, Jemison drew the third seed going into Silver Bracket play, and the Panthers responded with their best volleyball of the tournament.

In the opening match of elimination, JHS pounded Hamilton 25-17, 25-17 behind six kills and a block solo from Steele.

Ray contributed four kills and three service aces, while Spain added four kills, nine assists and five aces.

Defensively, Kelsey Lowery chipped in six digs and Kelson Cole added five digs.

The Panthers kept the momentum going in the semifinals, knocking off Oakman 25-23, 25-19.

Steele and Ray tallied four kills apiece, while Lowery had seven digs and Maria Abarca chalked up three blocks.

As a team, Jemison totaled 13 aces, with Ray, Northcutt and Spain serving up three each.

In the Silver Bracket finals, JHS squared off with another state volleyball power in Sumiton Christian.

Errors were again the downfall, as Sumiton took a 25-18, 25-18 victory in the tournament finale.

In the upcoming week, the Panthers will face area foe Calera on Monday, while opening the home slate Tuesday with cross-county rival CCHS.