Straughn takes tournament championship

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hannah Lawless smashes the ball back for a kill.

Hannah Lawless smashes the ball back for a kill.

It was a big weekend for the Straughn Lady Tigers as they knocked off Pleasant Home, Ariton and T.R. Miller on the way to winning the Straughn High School volleyball tournament on Saturday.

“I thought we played really well,” Lady Tigers head coach Daniel Rodgers said. “We had a bit of a wake up call on Monday and we have played extremely good volleyball since.”

Rodgers said that the Lady Tigers got off to a slow start in the first match against the Pleasant Home Lady Eagles.

“First set against Pleasant Home started really slow for us and we lost the first set,” Rodgers said. “The girls didn’t give up and we battled back and won. That was the first time all season that we have dropped the first set and came back to win.”

The Lady Eagles surged out front to start the first set and took a 5-1 lead, but the Lady Tigers weren’t going to go away easily as they battled back to tie the game at 17-17.

Strong play for the Lady Eagles proved too much for the Lady Tigers in the first set, as Pleasant Home hung on for a 25-19 win.

In the second set, behind a pair of kills from Hannah Lawless and a pair of aces from Derriunna Gantt got the Lady Tigers off to explosive start and a 6-2 lead.

The Lady Eagles continued the fight and battled back to retake the lead at 15-14.

A big kill from Lawless then sparked a rally for the Lady Tigers and gave Straughn a 25-19 win to tie the series at one game each.

After a back-and-forth start to game three, the Lady Tigers burst out front to take a 15-7 victory and a 2-1 overall win in first match of the tournament.

“The Ariton game started out much like the Pleasant Home game did,” Rodgers said. “We got behind early and lost the first set, but we battled back and won the final two. The biggest factor in the Ariton match was when Brittany Maddox came off the bench. She had some great serves that sparked us.”

In the first set against Ariton, the Lady Tigers started slow and couldn’t figure out a way to claw back into the contest as Ariton strolled to a 25-14 opening win.

Ariton got off to strong start again in the second match, and the Lady Tigers found themselves trailing 5-0.

The Lady Tigers then mounted a comeback off serves from Maddox, as they rallied to take a 16-11 lead over Ariton. Strong kills from Gantt and Ashley Hughes propelled the Lady Tigers to 25-15 win and forced a decisive game three.

The Lady Tigers came out strong in the final set, and an ace from Meredith Rogers gave Straughn an early 2-1 lead.

Neither team could find a way to break out to a strong lead to start the match, but the Lady Tigers kicked it in to overdrive when the score reached 5-5. After being tied at five, the Lady Tigers proceeded to go on a 10-2 run to give them a 15-7 win and a 2-1 overall win in the second match of the tournament.

“We came in the final match against an unbeaten T.R. Miller team and we sweep them to win the championship,” Rodgers said. “We came out and played real well and I was super proud of the effort. That game showed that we can playing with good teams, as long as we play as a team.”

The Lady Tigers came busting out in the first set against T.R. Miller and an ace from Meredith Rogers and a couple of kills from Lawless catapulted Straughn to a 9-3 lead.

Both teams then followed with short runs, but it was Straughn who finished off the first set with power. Courtney Rogers picked up a pair of aces towards the end of the set and Meredith Rogers also picked up another ace on the way to a 25-21 Straughn win.

Rogers remained a heavy hitter from behind the serving line and picked up two aces at the start of the second on the way to helping build a 7-1 Straughn lead.

T.R. Miller wasn’t going to go away quietly as they battled back to tie the set at 7-7.

Gantt then sparked a Straughn rally with two big aces, and then an ace from Lawless put Straughn in position to claim the tournament championship.

Hughes capped off the victory with a monster kill to give Straughn a 25-18 win and a 2-0 overall win in the tournament’s championship match.

“Our communication was a lot better this past week and this weekend,” Rogers said. “We are starting to play like the team we were when we started the season. We talked on the court letting each other know what is going on, what was coming and just encouraging others. It was just a good weekend for us. We kept attacking and getting points. We had big kills from Hannah Lawless, Lexie Cottle and Derriunna Gantt. Great passing from Meredith and Courtney Rogers all tournament, and Sarah Langford did a great job at setter.”

Lawless helped guide to the Lady Tigers to the championship with 16 kills on the day, and Meredith Rogers was the top server with 8 aces during the tournament. Lexie Cottle finished with 10 kills and Derriunna Gantt ended the day with 6 aces and 6 kills.

The Pleasant Home Lady Eagles finished the tournament in third place with a 2-0 win against Ariton (25-23, 25-18) and a 2-0 win over Brantley (25-19, 25-16).

The Lady Tigers will be back in action on Thursday when the take on Andalusia and Headland in region action at Straughn High School.

“I just want to invite everyone to come out and support both of our local schools,” Rogers said. “We have worked hard to get where we are and I know that Andalusia has as well. This will be a good event for the community to come out and enjoy.”