HANCEVILLE – Good Hope made a point to the rest of the field at the Cullman County high school volleyball tournament on Monday: the championship trophy is still in their possession until somebody takes it away by outplaying them.
Coming in as the No. 3 seed with new coach Samantha Bryson, who replaced the retired Rosemary Brown, and not having All-County outside hitter Kate Kent for much of the season due to a foot injury, the Lady Raiders overcame adversity and are in the finals of the winner's bracket.
Monday at Lane Horton Gymnasium, the Lady Raiders stunned No. 2 seed West Point in straight sets 25-19, 25-17. This came after the Lady Raiders took down No. 6 seed Hanceville 25-20, 20-6.
On the other side of the bracket is Fairview. The No. 1 seed Lady Aggies turned back No. 4 Cold Springs 25-21, 25-18 to set up a confrontation in the winner's final Tuesday at 4 p.m. for the final day of the county tournament.
Vinemont, Hanceville and Holly Pond were eliminated by 6 p.m., with West Point and Cold Springs set to return to Tuesday's schedule and join the two undefeated squads. The format is double-elimination.
"This group wants the county championship again," Bryson said following the sweep of West Point. "We play with everything to gain and nothing to lose. We couldn't have done this without the play of our back row."
Good Hope started out strong in the winner's semi with West Point. In the opening set, the Lady Raiders led 6-5 as West Point had some moments go their way and went ahead 14-11.
That's when the Lady Raiders went to work on frontline attacks at the net by Leyton Seal, Emma Pugh, Abby Burnette and Sadie Abbott. The back line, featuring Chrissi Smith as setter with Ally Knight and Skylar Tucker, handled the ball well in setting up the front to hammer away against West Point's solid line of Molly Pendley, Jessica King, Mackenzie Carter and Josie Huckabey.
A service ace put them ahead to stay at 18-17 and the Lady Raiders were able to make plays in the end that West Point couldn't. The Lady Raiders won 25-19.
Good Hope stormed to an 11-4 lead early in game two by scoring on serves and again having Seal, Pugh, Burnette and Abbott contribute up front.
West Point managed to draw within 19-14, but was unable to take the momentum away from the Lady Raiders. Good Hope finished it out 25-17 and avenged a loss to West Point on Sept. 20 in an assignment at Jim Boyd Gymnasium.
Getting a bye, top seed Fairview got a good test by Cold Springs in its winner's semifinal. The Lady Aggies held a 10-7 lead, only to see the Lady Eagles come back and surge in front 21-19.
But coach Tracy Means got plays from the likes of Phoenix Janusas, McKinna Yearwood, Abbi Taylor and Tess Bailey up front, and back line effort by Ally Hoagland, Alivia Boyll and Marissa Donohoo, to rally and post a 25-21 triumph.
The second set was ever so tight too. Getting the lead at 5-4, Fairview was able to extend the spread to 21-17 and then put the match into win control by the final score of 25-18.
Cold Springs gave the Lady Aggies everything they could with Claire Harbison, Savanna Taylor, Desmarie Moore, Madison Holmes, Anna Kate Freeman Voce and Elizabeth Hill fighting the No. 1 seed to the finish.
Good Hope and Fairview get Tuesday's started with a 4 p.m. assignment. The loser's final will be at 5 p.m. followed by the championship at 6 p.m. and an if needed match at 7 p.m.
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