Big winners

Lincoln senior Bre'shayla Hill and the Lady Golden Bears were 11-3 on the season after Saturday's tournament

LINCOLN -- Lincoln High School’s volleyball team hosted its annual Smashing Rallies of September volleyball tournament Saturday, when 16 teams battled for bragging rights.

The Lady Golden Bears swept Ashville (25-16, 25-17) to claim the tournament championship.

“We have never won, so this was our first time,” Lincoln head coach Patty Hansen said. “This is my 14th year coaching here, and we’ve held this tournament for 13 of those years.

“In 13 years, this was the first time that we have actually even gotten past the first round in the bracket … so winning it was a big deal.

“These girls, it’s something they really wanted … especially our seniors. It means a lot to all of them, but for the seniors, it’s kind of special to them to actually win, succeed and do such a great job on Saturday.”

The teams were divided into four pools, with each squad competing round-robin style to determine the seeding for two brackets -- the gold bracket featuring the top two teams from each pool and the silver bracket featuring the bottom two.

Lincoln, Piedmont, Horseshoe Bend, DAR, Westminster, Cherokee County, Isabella and Ashville earned spots in the gold bracket, while Gaylesville, Talladega, St. Clair County, Sylacauga, Pell City, Cornerstone, Ragland and Victory Christian settled into the silver bracket.

“We played Ashville, my alma mater, for the championship,” Hansen said. “It was kind of neat to be able to do that as well.”

In pool play, Lincoln defeated Victory Christian (25-17, 25-7), Ashville (25-16, 25-14) and Gaylesville (25-11, 25-15) to earn one of the top seeds in the gold bracket.

The Lady Golden Bears advanced to the semifinals by knocking off Piedmont (25-12, 25-12), then bested Horseshoe Bend (25-14, 23-25, 15-7) to reach the final.

“I think that Horseshoe Bend was the hardest team (we faced) … because they were able to keep the ball up and keep it going,” Lady Golden Bears junior Taylor Lett said. “They just played smarter than most teams. It’s also very challenging because we have so many players out at the moment. People moving around, it’s kind of a tough time, but we pushed through.”

Hansen said several tournaments on the horizon will continue to test her squad.

“Right now, the pieces that are working for us, it’s teamwork,” she said. “It’s being a team, working together and holding each other accountable. I think they’re doing a really good job doing that.”

She added several leaders have emerged on the floor to guide the Lady Golden Bears.

“Our leadership right now is coming from Kristen Woods and Taylor Lett,” Hansen said. “Both of them are coming back (as starters) from the team last year. Another senior, Marchell Pearson, she’s stepping up her game and she’s doing really well. I’m excited about what she has going for us right now.

“Keishaunna Strown, an 11th-grader, she is hitting extremely well this year and playing great defense from the back row, which is something she has not done before. She’s doing a really good job as well.”

Woods, a senior, said it meant a lot to be a team leader and finally bring home a win in this tournament, especially after being the first team to advance past the opening round.

She added, “When we played our first time, I was like, ‘We just need a positive attitude, good energy -- to talk, communicate and no attitudes. If we play as a team, we’ll be all right.’ As the day went on, we just played one game at a time. Then, when we got to the championship game … we had to stay focused. We won, we made history and we continue to plan on making history.”

Sylacauga won the silver bracket with victories over St. Clair County, Gaylesville and Pell City in the final.