The championship ball/ Johnny Thornton
HANCEVILLE – Jasper High School, officially Walker High School until school resumes this fall, unofficially won its first title when the volleyball program captured the Gold Division crown Wednesday at the Wallace State Community College team camp.
Known as Walker High School since beginning athletics in 1920 with football, the school received a change in its name when it moved to a new facility in the Jasper city limits. Jasper is the name, with the nickname still the Vikings and the school still wearing black and gold colors.
Jasper won two close games in the finals against Providence Christian 25-20, 25-23. The Lady Vikings entered the tournament segment of the three-day camp Wednesday and never suffered a loss.
Jasper topped eighth-seed Brewer in straight sets, then followed it with two victories over fourth-seed Enterprise. Providence Christian, from the Dothan area, earned a fifth seed for the tournament, downing third-seed Priceville in the quarterfinals and coming from a one-game deficit to edge seventh-seed Plainview in the semifinals.
Providence was 40-7 in 2016, finishing second in Class 3A to Bayside Academy. Jasper compiled a 33-8 record with a berth in the Elite Eight in 6A.
Jasper broke a 6-6 tie in the opening set on a volley by McKinley Ferguson and never trailed again. The largest lead the Lady Vikings enjoyed was at 21-15 on a service point by Ferguson. Ferguson scored four straight from the service line after she got a kill to give her team momentum.
Alex Oliver finished off the opening set with a kill as Jasper scored 11 points on kills, three by Ferguson and two from Khloe Kimbrell.
Jasper fell behind in game two by a couple of points, then went ahead when Providence served the ball out of bounds to make it 21-20. A block at the net by Jordan Gilbert allowed Kelsey Shelton to score on serve and up the lead to 22-20.
Abby Trotter followed with consecutive kills from the back row to put Jasper in position to sweep the title match. After a service break by Providence, Jasper finished it with Oliver's fifth kill in the set.
Winning was contagious for Jasper. The Lady Vikings won the junior varsity Gold title and the freshmen defeated Hanceville in the JV Silver championship.
Goshen High School knocked off Crossville in the Silver varsity title match, played inside the Wallace Wellness Center.
The local teams were not successful in tournament play, Good Hope was seeded 10th in the Gold Division, then was defeated by Plainview in the first round.
Hanceville got a win in the silver as a ninth seed, downing Fort Payne, then was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Goshen.
Cold Springs had a second seed for the silver division, but lost in the quarters to Winston County.
West Point was a fourth seed for the silver and eliminated in the quarters by sixth-seed Springville.
Nineteen varsity teams competed in the tournament format to complete three days of plenty of volleyball at Tom Drake Coliseum. Now all teams await Aug. 7 to begin practice for the 2017 season that will start for most on Aug. 31.
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