Head Coach David Clark feels that his team is ready for postseason play which will begin next Tuesday with the area tournament hosted by the Lady Eagles.
“I think we are where we need to be,” said Clark. “I was getting a little concerned because I didn’t think we had reached a point where we were starting to pull everything together.
“Since our loss to Guntersville we haven’t lost a match. I think that was a kick start to realizing that we had to maintain a certain level of play all the time.
“We’re starting to show that confidence and that level of play. We’re right where we need to be.”
Since the Guntersville match the Lady Eagles have been on a tear. Jacksonville brought the county championship back home for the seventh time in nine years when they defeated Donoho 20-25, 25-23, 25-19 and 26-24.
During the tournament the Lady Eagles also faced and beat Anniston, (25-4, 25-8, and 25-11), Ohatchee (25-10, 25-16, and 25-11) and Oxford (8-25, 25-14, 25-23, and 25-16).
Jacksonville players Katie Neisler, Blessing Dunn, Halee Stallings and Ariel Diaz were all named to the All-county team with Dunn being named the Best Offensive Player and Neisler the tournaments Most Valuable Player.
Last week the Lady Eagles turned right around and beat Oxford, 22-25, 25-18, and 16-14 and Donoho 25-20 and 25-21.
Blessing Dunn recorded 18 kills, three aces, 11 digs and two blocks; Neisler, 16 kills and eight digs; Stallings, 12 kills and four blocks; Tamaria Mays, seven kills and seven blocks; Mallory Patterson, five kills and two blocks; Breanna Hosch, two kills and two digs; and libero Ariel Diaz had three aces and seven digs. Setters Ashley Clingan had 32 assists and Courtney Bowden had 17 assists.
In the final regular season area match Jacksonville (27-9, 6-0) beat Alexandria 25-9, 25-17, and 25-10.
Bowden had 20 assists, Clingan 16 assists, Neisler 14 kills, two aces, three digs and two blocks; Mays, 13 kills and six blocks; Dunn, eight kills and four digs; Stallings six kills and two digs; Patterson, two kills and three blocks and Diaz had four digs.
This week, on Tuesday the Lady Eagles will celebrate Senior Night with a quad match with WestEnd, Pleasant Valley and Southside and will play in the Blaylock Tournament at Homewood this weekend.
Clark has not scheduled as many tournaments as he has in the past, giving his team some time off. “We’ve had a grueling schedule,” said Clark. “The tournaments are getting bigger and bigger and physically it’s really demanding for these kids. At this point in your season its important that you are as healthy as you can be.
“This is a good time for a break, where they can enjoy Homecoming and be teenagers.”
While Clark gave his team off this past weekend, he says that next year, the week after the county tournament he will schedule a tournament in conjunction with a 5K. Portions of the proceeds from the tournament will go to Leukemia Research. The tournament will be in honor of Caroline Neisler, a former JHS player who passed away earlier this year.
Clark feels his team is ready for next week’s area tournament, the “second season.” “I tell my team that everything up to now has been like practice games, in preparation for the area tournament. This is where the season really begins.”