Our varsity Lady Rebels traveled to Montgomery early Saturday morning, August 9 to play in the Top Gun Elite 8 Volleyball Tournament hosted by Macon East Academy. The day started with a 2 game shootout for placement on the tournament bracket which was single elimination.
Our Lady Rebels took the court against Escambia Academy with starters Rebekah Kitchens, Tori Spain, Rachel Worthey, Erin Harrison, Morgan Beasley, and Hannah Kitchens taking the court.
Tori was first to serve. With a score of 0-5, Coach Joel Penfield took a time out and gave the team a pep talk. Erin Harrison was next to serve, and the girls were working to find their groove. After a sub in of newcomer Anna Bedford for Rachel Worthey, she served and put some points on the board. A quick tip from Hannah fell in open court, and the ball came back to BA. Coach P was playing a very strategic game and subbing in players to play each position with a strength player. Junior Lauren Burton took the server spot and served up 7 unanswered points to tie it up 14-14. The Lady Rebels pulled ahead 15-14 with the next serve. Great job Lauren with 8 points including an ace.
Junior Erin Harrison rotated to server and shot several long steady serves bringing the score to 21-19. The Kitchens sisters continued their domination at the net with several fake jumps, tips and kills. Rebekah took the winning point, and we ended 25-20. The girls definitely found their groove.
Coach P said, “I expected them to be nervous. Once the jitters wore, off, we definitely started playing Bessemer Academy volleyball.”
In the second pool play game, we were paired with Lee-Scott. Taking the court first were Rebekah, Hannah, Anna, Rachel, Erin, and Morgan. Anna was the first to serve and put the first point on the board for BA. The Lady Rebels were playing a steady game and pulled ahead 11-4 when the Lee-Scott coach called a time out. It was all smiles in the BA huddle as Coach P gave them a few pointers.
Hannah Kitchens had a strong run at server and put 12 points on the board for BA. At 18-4, the Lee-Scott coach once again called time out to try to rally her players. Lauren Burton had an ace in the first at-serve.
She then put one in the corner that Lee-Scott never even dove for. After a tussle at the net, BA put another point on the board. Once again, Lauren had another dominating game with 5 points in a row. At 24-6, we were at game point when Erin Harrison scored the winning point with a backward, behind-the-head tip over the net to seal the win 25-6.
After the game, Coach P said, “They played a lot better this time. I knew they just had nerves that first game. We’re now the #1 seed in the tourney and play first.”
By having the most points earned in their pool play games, our Lady Rebels earned the #1 seed in the tournament. Our team took the court at noon against the Cornerstone Lady Chargers needing to win best 2 out of 3. Hannah came out strong with a kill to put the first point on the board. Erin had a solid series that put several points on the board. Rachel Worthey had a nice block at the net to bring the score to 4-1. She was next to serve, but the ball went long. Rebekah had an ace, and possession continued to go back and forth after almost every point. A great dig by Bekah saved a hard serve that we eventually earned the point on.
With the score at 10-6, inconsistency seemed to be plaguing both teams. Allison Gafnea had her first turn serving an ace. With a score of 17-9, BA was still holding their own. Morgan had several digs at middle back. Anna had an ace. In the final push for the win, Hannah continued her ninja net skills sneaking in points with her famous tricky tips. Winning point for BA was Rebekah who added several points to this game.
The second game started quickly, and Anna Bedford started strong at server with 1 point and an ace. Bekah took the court with a score of 8-4 and put 4 points up.
When the Cornerstone Chargers had rallied back to 17-16, Coach P called a time out. A few serves later, and we were back at 20-18. The winning point was scored by Rebekah Kitchens. Final was 25-22.
After a break for lunch, the semifinal game against Edgewood began about 3:30. After a long opening volley, BA took the first point. We continued to stay on top. Tori served her first ace of the year. With a score of 14-7, the Edgewood coach called a time out to regroup. The Lady Rebels looked relaxed as Coach P gave some pointers. Our net game continued to be strong as Erin put 3 on the board. Rachel Worthy pegged one to the back court that Edgewood watched sail by to bring the score to 19-11. After several missed plays, Coach P called time with a score at 22-16. A few plays later, Anna served and after a few volleys, an Edgewood player hit it out sealing another win for us. Final 25-17.
After a breather, the teams took the court again in a best 2 out of 3 shootout. Lauren was up to serve and started us out with the first point. The Lady Rebels never gave up the lead. Dig for Bekah. With the score at 24-20, Coach P called time out to make a plan to put Edgewood away. Final 25-20.
The tournament championship game against Kingwood Christian School began with the Lady Lions taking the lead. Fresh from their semifinal win over 3 time 2A state champion Macon East, the Lady Lions were out for blood and looking for another kill. Final score Kingwood 14-25.
In the second game with BA down 2-9, Coach P called a time out to huddle up. The Lady Rebels started to rally back. A hard serve and a dig from Morgan resulted in a back wall dive and a valiant attempt to keep the ball in play. Kingwood had a 9 point lead at 7-16. Lauren served, and we were hoping for another streak, but she put 1 on the board before possession went back to Kingwood. With the score 10-21, Coach P called another time out. Rachel Worthy served 2 aces in a row to bring the score to 14-22. Looking tired for the first time all day, our Lady Rebels just couldn’t match the momentum Kingwood had. The final point by Kingwood ended the match at 16-25 making the Lady Lions tournament champs and our Lady Rebels second.
That’s a pretty great start to what we know will be another great season for our defending state champion team!