Photo: The Ashville High volleyball team gathers for a photo after winning the Class 4A, Area 9 Tournament last Wed-nesday (Oct. 14) at AHS. Pictured, kneeling, from left: Brynn Bothwell, Hannah England, AD Engle, Ashlee Eastis, Ryleigh Waid, Callie Stewart, Kazyla Simpson. Standing, from left: assistant coach Meghan Duren, Whitney Goodwin, Elizabeth Franklin, Josey Rakestraw, Kathleen McCarthy, Rayne Ford, Sam Nabors, Sera Beth Potter, head coach Mara Mattison, manager Elijah Turner. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
It wasn’t east, but the Ashville High volleyball team won its first area title in three years with a come-from-behind victory over Oneonta in the Class 4A, Area 9 Tournament last Wednesday Oct. 14) at AHS.
After receiving a first-round bye, the host Lady Bulldogs (27-8) faced Oneonta in the championship match. The teams split their two area matches earlier in the season.
The Lady Redskins (17-13), who swept Etowah in the opening round, made it four wins in a row with a 12-26 victory in the opening game of the title match.
Ashville head coach Mara Mattison wasn’t too concerned.
“These girls have shown a lot of resiliency all year long, as we usually bounce back if we lose that first game. We have a lot of experienced players who know how to shake it off and focus on what’s next.”
Ashville quickly regained its composure, winning 25-14 in Game 2 and 25-18 in Game 3.
Oneonta wasn’t quite ready to head back to Blount County, however, as the visitors tied the match with a 25-20 win in Game 4.
Once again, however, Mattison was not anxious.
“Whenever we got an elimination game this year, we’ve always found a way to pull it out. These girls have so much heart and so much mental toughness. Oneonta came ready to play, and we know they weren’t going to go away after we built that [2-1] lead.”
The deciding fifth game went back and forth until Ashville went ahead 13-10, and the Lady Bulldogs soon punched their ticket to the subregional round, where they will host Rogers in this Saturday (Oct. 17) at 2 p.m. The winner will advance to the state tournament in Huntsville starting Oct. 23.
For the tournament for Ashville, Ryleigh Waid had 32 assists and 21 digs; Sera Beth Potter had 18 kills and three aces; Adrianna Engle had 29 digs; Whitney Goodwin had 10 kills and two blocks; Callie Stewart 16 digs; Rayne Ford had eight digs; Kayla Simpson had three kills and two blocks; and Ashlee Eastis had two kills.
Making the all-tournament team were Sera Beth Potter, AD Engle, Ryleigh Waid and Callie Stewart from Ashville and Mackenzie Burke and Hally Bennet from Etowah.
“This is a great group of girls, and I’m so proud of them,” said Mattison. “We didn’t win county, but we won area, and that was one of our top goals for this year.”