Falcons focus, repeat as champs
by Brandon Miller
bmiller@annistonstar.com
Nov 01, 2012 | 3563 views |  0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Donoho Lady Falcons receive their championship trophy from AHSAA Executive Director Steve Varese. Donoho coach Janice Slay and her team won the 1A state volleyball championship over Addison at the Birmingham Sportsplex this morning. (Photo by Trent Penny)
The Donoho Lady Falcons receive their championship trophy from AHSAA Executive Director Steve Varese. Donoho coach Janice Slay and her team won the 1A state volleyball championship over Addison at the Birmingham Sportsplex this morning. (Photo by Trent Penny)
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BIRMINGHAM — There was a brief moment of confusion before Donoho realized it won the Class 1A State Championship.

With the score 24-17, Jordan Ray hit a lofty spike that landed out of bounds. Several Addison players, clinging to their last hopes of being state champions, celebrated, but it took several seconds for everyone to notice the line judge called the ball a tip.

Half a second later, the realization hit the Lady Falcons and the celebration began.

“I just saw Corey (Phillis) hit the ground and I knew it was over,” Ray said. “I just jumped on top of her.”

Donoho’s Thursday morning win over Addison, 19-25, 27-25, 25-22, 25-21, was a repeat of last year’s title match. However, finishing the season the same way this year was just as special.

“Oh my gosh, what a great win for us,” said Donoho coach Janice Slay. “Anytime you play Addison you are playing quality, quality volleyball. We are very blessed and fortunate to be in this situation to begin with and I just cannot say enough about the determination of our team.”


Click here for more photos from Donoho's championship victory

Donoho’s run to the repeat didn’t start off as such. Addison controlled most of the first set, leading by as many as six before the Lady Falcons made a comeback. However, only leading once for one point, Donoho’s jitters got them best of them.

“We beat ourselves with silly mistakes,” Slay said. “Just being in this arena is enough. I think Addison knew what they wanted to do and we were a little bit hesitant. But I think we realized we could play with them and when things started turning in the second game right off the bat I think we got more confident in what we were doing.”

Turning things around quickly and jumping out to an early 6-0 lead in the second set, the Lady Falcons showed they meant business. But still being plagued with errors and miscommunication, Addison got back in the game and eventually tied it at 22 before Donoho was able to win.

Between the second and third sets is when Slay said the tide turned in Donoho’s favor.

“The second and third games were so crucial. Probably the third game was the most important because up until that point we were playing them point-to-point and I’m not sure we really thought we could do and push through on that third game,” she said. “We had just a little bit of a confidence builder right now and saw a little bit more relaxed play.”

Down early in the third, Donoho slowly fought back, not taking the lead until the score was 22-21. However, the Lady Falcons had found confidence and were able to close out the set, 25-22.

In the fourth set, with Addison’s backs against the wall, Phillis came through for Donoho. With points going back and forth, the junior began serving while trailing 21-17.

“It just so happens every game we play I have to serve last,” Phillis joked. “It just always comes down to me so I just knew I had to get my serve in.”

Eight consecutive serves later, Ray hit one of her four kills, which happened to be the winner.

Phillis, who was named the tournament MVP, finished the match with 22 kills, four blocks and 10 digs as Peyton van Ekris added 15 kills, 8 blocks, an ace and 21 digs. Adele Fink recorded 11 kills, two blocks and 24 digs, Rylee Segrest had 22 asssists, 16 digs and 12 kills and Anna Turner had 16 assists and 14 digs.

“The thing our girls do before every match is they get in a circle, they put their hands together and they say the word ‘focus,’” Slay said. “That’s what we saw on the floor today was extreme focus. They knew what they wanted to do, they worked really hard to do it and the focus was all about staying together and being unified in our purpose. That’s what we’ve been doing all year long.”

Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.

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