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Gators, Knights look back on Championship Match

Story by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher

Photos by Sandie Free | CAScoreboard Photographer

CENTRAL ALABAMA SCOREBOARD OFFICE – It took a couple of rounds to get there, but the AISA Class AAA bracket led to the showdown between Glenwood and Macon East. They’d just met days earlier and needed five sets to determine a regional champion. At Cramton Bowl, though, the Gators ended the state championship match in three set, winning 25-12, 25-15 and 25-21.

“The state match meant everything to me because it was the last game I would ever play for volleyball,” said Glenwood senior Arianna Pinder. “Everyone on the team, including my coaches, are like family to me and we have grown from each other. Knowing that I would never get to step on the court with them again really made me want to leave everything I had on the court at the end of the day.”

Pinder was named to the All Tournament Team with teammates Josie Miller and Simone Gillispie. Sarah Cochran and Maddie Ross (Macon-East), Lucy Corder (Tuscaloosa Academy) and Lillie Huff (Lee-Scott) filled out the team.

Ross: “Playing in the state championship means that we, as a team, were ablet to push through everything we have through this season and still come out as one of the top teams in the state.”

Ross ended the championship match with nine kills, six digs and two blocks as the Knights reached the championship game after losing in the Final Four the year prior.

“I’m very proud of the way we finished our season,” said Codi Moon, coach of the Knights. “We struggled early in the year to find our rhythm and these girls worked through a lot to where they ended up. We’ve been in the Final Four the past two years so getting back to the championship game was huge for us. I have a young team and expect my girls to continue to grow and having that experience at the championship level will only better us for years to come.”

The Knights knocked off Southern Academy and Tuscaloosa Academy to advance to the finale. Glenwood escorted Fort Dale and Lee-Scott to the door setting up the championship showdown.

“This season has been so much fun,” said Kayla Strength, coach of the Gators. “After a limited season last year due to covid, the girls really chose to make the most out of each day. This team is so special to this program because they have really embodied what it means to be a team which is putting differences aside for the greater good and becoming a family. The standard has been set and future teams will have to live up to the mentality this team has instilled.”

In the finale, Miller led the Gators with 24 assists and seven kills. Katie Jones finished the affair with 11 kills and five aces.

Ross was the leading Knight with eight kills, four aces and five digs against Southern and 14 kills against Tuscaloosa. Beyond that Sav Sharpe accounted for 70 assists through the three games along with a handful of aces, digs and kills. Sydney Phelps – in the first two games – served up six aces, six kills and 12 blocks. Sara Cochran delivered nine aces in the first two matches (along with 19 kills) and – in the championship match – ended it with 13 kills and six digs.

For a handful of AISA volleyballers though, what they thought was their last match – wasn’t. They were chosen to the All-Star teams that played over the weekend. 

Strength and Moon were tapped to coach the East while coaches from North River and Heritage skippered the West. 

Here are the rosters for the game:

Founder/Publisher of Central Alabama Scoreboard. Former sportsguy, managing editor, currently working for the City of Tallassee as a Public Information Specialist and grant writer.

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