By Matthew Martin/Sports Correspondent
Angie Sanders and her Gadsden State volleyball team did not go into last week’s matchup against Faulkner State looking for revenge, but it would be almost impossible for it to not be on the players’ minds.
The Cardinals avenged a difficult loss in last year’s state tournament with a 22-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-21 victory in Alabama Community College Conference action on Sept. 12 at Beck Field House on the Gadsden State campus.
“It’s a bittersweet win,” Sanders said. “I don’t feel like we should have lost last year, in the fifth game, 15-13. But that’s just the way it happened.”
Gadsden State led throughout the first game, holding a three-point lead, 18-15. But Faulkner State stormed back to take the early lead. In the final three games, however, the Lady Cardinals dominated.
Despite the close scores, Gadsden State controlled play and led those games from start to finish.
Sanders said she felt like her team should have won the postseason matchup a season ago. That loss made this win that much sweeter, even though half her roster was still in high school when that match took place in early November.
After playing its first 10 matches on the road, Gadsden State (10-1, 3-0) is still trying to find its identity. With eight freshmen on the 16-player roster, the Lady Cardinals are somewhat different to the team that lost to Faulkner State last season.
“This year, this team, we’ve put together a pretty good group,” Sanders said. “I don’t think we’ve played as well (today) as we have been. We’ve been on the road; that was our 12th match and that’s the first one at home. But that’s OK. We’re going to build on the positives, work on the negatives and go from here.”
The Lady War Chiefs are among the favorites each year in conference play, making the home opener a stiff test. But Hall’s squad was up to the challenge, serving notice that they are one of the teams to beat in the ACCC.
“[Faulkner State] has some of the same players back from last year,” Sanders said. “They always put together a good team, and [Faulkner head coach Ritchie Dulaney’s] program is always at the top of our conference. I don’t expect anything less than a hard-fought match anytime we play Faulkner.”
Sophomore setter Megan Butler led Gadsden State with 12 kills, followed freshman middle blocker Audrianna Hargitt and sophomore middle blocker Devonna Taylor with eight each, Katie Mitchell with six and Collin Nichols and C.J. Payton with five each and Amanda Young with four. Taylor also had two blocks.
Megan Butler had 23 assists, while Amy Estes had 17.
Sophomore outside hitter Lauren Butler had three aces.
Lauren Butler had 16 digs, followed by Young with 12 and Megan Butler with 11.
On Sept. 10, Gadsden State swept Lawson State, 25-8, 27-17, 25-22, in ACCC action in Birmingham.
Madison Clayton had five kills, while Young, Nichols and Malorie Moland each had four.
Estes and Megan Young had 11 and nine assists, respectively.
Tanna Lawson and Stora Gilliland each had four digs.
Gadsden State hosts Jeff Davis on Friday (Sept. 20) at Beck Field House. The match is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.