A year after beating Addison for the title, Donoho will face the Bulldogs again with all the chips on the table.
“We’ve been talking about giants that we’ve needed to slay going through and they’re our last giant,” Donoho coach Janice Slay said. “They’re an excellent team. You don’t see a lot of witnesses there so we’re definitely going to need to bring our A game against them.
“The girls are capable of doing that and they really want to repeat their championship. But it’ll be a great match regardless of what happens.”
The Lady Falcons won easily in an essentially warmup match Wednesday morning, beating Meek 25-8, 25-15, 25-7. The semifinals did not bring much of a challenge either. Donoho downed Lynn 25-9, 25-19, 25-20.
“We had a lot of pregame jitters,” said Slay. “We didn’t know what to expect with Lynn and we knew they had at least two really powerful hitters. The girls were a little bit nervous but came out and were gangbusters. I’m excited to know what they’re going to look like tomorrow morning.”
Sacred Heart, which was on the other side of the 1A bracket, faced Addison in the semifinals and was just never able to get things going.
“We’re not even in the same class as them,” said Sacred Heart coach Robin Coplin. “I mean, they’re one of the best teams I’ve ever seen. Granted, we did not play well. We’ve been this way all year.”
Coming off a 41-kill match against Athens Bible, which the Lady Cardinals defeated coming back after losing the first two sets on Wednesday morning, Blessing Dunn and Sacred Heart were simply unable to stop committing errors.
“My leading hitter had one kill and my second leading hitter had four,” Coplin said. “We didn’t show up.”
As the sun went down in Birmingham on Wednesday, Jacksonville was able to get past the semifinals for the first time in three years, defeating Randolph, 25-19, 25-12, 25-22.
“My biggest concern was how we handled our emotional levels and we came in with some confidence and could relax,” Jacksonville coach David Clark said. “We played them in the Super Regional semifinals and I knew they could play better than they did there and they did all night.”
The Golden Eagles got through the first and second sets scoring a bulk of points at a time to distance themselves from the Raiders.
“I thought we scored big points when we had to, got out front and tried to just relax,” Clark added.
However, after taking a 12-3 lead in the third set, Randolph came roaring back to tie it at 20 before the Golden Eagles pulled the win out.
“I thought the last game when we got out to a big lead they started watching the scoreboard and wishing those points instead of staying on the floor and focusing on getting those points,” Clark said. “And they didn’t go home so they played really hard and I knew they would.”
Jacksonville will face Madison County at 3 p.m. for the state championship.
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.