Panthers take first in Invitational Tournament
By Ronnie Holsombeck | Special to the Advertiser
From the opening match to the final point of the Jemison Panther Invitational on Saturday, it seemed as if the Jemison High School volleyball team was playing from behind.
As they have for most of the season, however, the Panthers battled back to post a 3-1 record and claim the tournament championship.
In the first match of the day, the Panthers took a commanding 25-15 victory in the opening set but fell victim to poor passing and serving in the next two games, losing the tournament opener to Thorsby, 2-1 (15-25, 25-16, 16-14).
Lauren Broussard and Hannah Northcutt led JHS with five kills apiece, while Emily Spain had 11 assists in the loss.
Jemison rebounded in the next match, scoring its only sweep of the day as the Panthers downed Montevallo, 2-0 (25-15, 25-14).
Cassini Steele dominated at the net, scoring seven kills and a pair of blocks, while Spain ripped eight service aces and added four kills to keep the Bulldogs on their heels all match long.
Steele again controlled the front row in the following contest, as the Panthers stormed from behind to knock off Chilton County High School, 2-1 (23-25, 25-17, 15-7).
Steele posted 10 kills and a block, while Spain and Kelsey Lowery added five service aces apiece to lead the JHS rally.
Broussard dished out nine assists to pace the offensive attack.
For CCHS, Kyla Corley recorded 20 assists in the tournament, while Kaley Lucas posted 29 kills and MaKenzy Wright had 19 digs.
In a winner-take-all match with Sylacauga, the Panthers once again dropped the first set, losing 17-25, but somehow found their rhythm in time to take the second two sets, 25-15 and 15-7, and capture the tournament title.
The victory was a team effort, with Steele posting six kills and three blocks, Maria Abarca adding five kills and two blocks, and Spain chipping in four kills.
Taylor Ray added three kills and eight digs, while Northcutt tallied 12 assists.