LINCOLN -- Leeds swept Westminster-Oak Mountain in two sets (25-20, 25-18) to win the Lincoln Varsity Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday.
The Lady Green Wave knocked off the homestanding Lady Golden Bears in two sets (25-22, 25-23) in the semifinals, while the Lady Knights punched their ticket to the championship match with a win over Collinsville in three sets (25-19, 23-25, 15-10).
“I think we showed up ready to play today,” Leeds head coach Melissa Causey said prior to her team’s semifinal showdown with Lincoln. “We’re missing two of our players, so we’ve had to overcome that. They played hard, and I’ve been pleased with our progress so far.”
In pool play, Lincoln swept Ragland and Collinsville. Against Horseshoe Bend, the Lady Golden Bears won 2-1 and earned the top seed coming out of Pool 1. Lincoln cruised past Cherokee County (25-17, 25-13) in the quarterfinals.
“They’re playing really well,” Hansen said of the Lady Golden Bears after the Cherokee County matchup. “They’re playing as a unit. They’re playing with a lot more control and focus than they usually have been doing. We’re about two weeks in to a lot of good play … and I think they’re just getting better and better.”
Hansen said she used the tournament, the team’s second of the season, as an opportunity to assess her squad’s depth as she rotated players in and out of the lineup.
“Keeping them fresh -- we can do that by doing a lot of rotations,” she said. “I’m only allowed 18 subs in a 25-point set. The other night at Carbon Hill, I ran out of subs. I’ve been down to one sub today in one of our sets.
“I do sub a lot, again to get experience for some of those younger ladies. I’m also looking for a final, solid (starting lineup) as the season goes on. I’m not waiting until I get there at the end to decide. We’re going to have to get it figured out here early and make it more solid with what we want to do for the whole season.”
She added it’s hard to single out specific players who have exceeded expectations because she’s seen plenty of good things from everyone who gets time on the floor.
“I’ve just got such a huge, well-balanced team at this time,” Hansen said. “I have Morgan Allison, Brittany Swain and Keishaunna Strown who are hitting hard on the front row, along with Taylor (Lett), of course.
“Setting really well for us is Taylor and Bailey Gowers, who is coming in and playing her first (season) on varsity. She’s my second setter and she’s doing a great job. I’ve had to have her hit a few times across the front row. It’s just a team unit.
“On the back row, I’ve just got good defense coming out of McKynlee Young. Anna Smith is playing great on that back row … I don’t know if I could pinpoint. It would have to be me looking at strict stats to know who was the better player in our play today because they’ve just all been (doing) a good job.”
Three to know
- Leeds swept St. Clair County (25-19, 25-15), Talladega (25-18, 25-18) and Westminster Oak Mountain (25-23, 25-13) to pick up the top seed in Pool 2. The Lady Green Wave bested Ragland (29-27, 25-22) in the quarterfinals.
- Pell City finished as the top seed in Pool 3, which included Cherokee County, B.B. Comer and Cornerstone, but the Lady Panthers fell to Collinsville (25-22, 25-18) in the quarterfinals.
- B.B. Comer, Talladega, St. Clair County and Cornerstone were the first four schools eliminated from the tournament.
- Pell City head coach Hailey Brown on the team’s effort in pool play: “This tournament, they’ve actually played really well. We’ve really had some senior leadership that has stepped up, and we won all three games in our pool play. Our last game against Cherokee County, it was a great, very intense game.”
- Brown on who has stepped up as one of the leaders on the team: “Right now, one of our biggest leaders is junior setter Kristin Gulledge. She has really stepped up as far as our setters. She’s played all the way around and she’s done some great things.”
- Lincoln will host Munford on Tuesday.
- Pell City will travel to St. Clair County on Tuesday.
- B.B. Comer will head east to play Randolph County on Tuesday.
- Talladega will host Sylacauga on Tuesday.