Isabella sweeps Maplesville, wins area

Published 4:37 pm Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Isabella poses with the trophy after winning the Area 5-1A tournament. (Photos by Anthony Richards)

Isabella poses with the trophy after winning the Area 5-1A tournament. (Photos by Anthony Richards)

The Isabella Mustangs began another postseason volleyball run on Monday following a straight set defeat of county rival Maplesville (25-13, 25-7, 25-4) in the Area 5-1A championship game.

Isabella hosted the area tournament, as the top seed after the regular season, and did not disappoint by also defeating Ellwood Christian in three sets in the semifinals earlier in the day.

After a somewhat close first set, the Mustangs grabbed early momentum and never looked back in both the second and third sets of the title game.

“I thought that the kids refocused well and improved each game against Maplesville,” Isabella head coach Glen Graham said. “Most of the time we were in system and played very strong.”

With the wins, Isabella improves to a record of 32-3 on the season and secured a spot in the South Super Regional scheduled from Thursday to Saturday at the Multiplex at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.

Isabella is slotted to play its first game of the competition against Millry High School at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

“Every goal that we have set so far has been reached,” Graham said. “Now we’ve just got a couple more.”

Kinley Tuttle hammers a ball back across the net.

Kinley Tuttle hammers a ball back across the net.

Some of the goals achieved this season include winning the area title and finishing undefeated at home. Next in line for the Mustangs is to be the top team out of the south portion of the bracket once again.

“We’re a unified group and it’s been great all year,” Isabella junior Kasey Grimes said. “We’ve been to state [playoffs], but now it’s about advancing. We know what to expect.”

The state playoffs are nothing new to Isabella, which made it to the state tournament last season but fell in five sets to Brilliant High School in the quarterfinals.

“Hopefully once we get there, we can crack that last nut and get to the Final Four,” Graham said. “I like this team and they are a good group of kids. We’ve just got to do our job every match.”

Hailey Underwood was out for three weeks during the season due to an injury, but has recovered nicely and was a major reason for Isabella’s success in the area tournament.

“We had the one injury, but she’s getting back into form and everyone else has helped pick up the slack,” Graham said.

Despite the loss, Maplesville finished runner-up in the area and will play in the South Super Regional against Fruitdale High School at 10:15 a.m. on Thursday.

Grimes was named MVP of the area tournament. Isabella’s Lexi Owens and Underwood were also selected for the all-area team, while Allison Jones and Karley Smitherman represented Maplesville.

“We don’t want the season to end anytime soon,” Isabella junior Synia Chattman said.