Laney Sweeps Eagles in Volleyball

09/16/2014

The Ashley Eagles and Laney Buccaneers both came into Tuesday night's critical volleyball matchup looking for a victory to help secure the final state playoff spot from the Mideastern 4A conference.

Behind 14 aces and some timely offense, the Buccaneers (7-4, 4-2) defeated the Eagles three games to none. Despite the sweep, Laney had to survive two fierce comebacks from Ashley in order to claim the victory.

"I thought it was a good performance," Laney coach Seneca Redwood-Sawyer said. "We beat ourselves up at times, but the girls stayed focused and I loved the fight they had all game."

Eight of Laney's 14 aces came in the first game as the Buccaneers cruised to a 25-16 victory. Things would get much more interesting in the final two games.

Trailing 24-16 in the second game, Ashley scored six consecutive points to force a Laney timeout and make the score 24-22. Redwood-Sawyer's timeout seemed to work as the Buccaneers finished the game on the very next point. Senior Jessica Henry produced one of her team-high five kills to take a two-game lead.

In the finale, Ashley (6-7, 1-4) once again rallied from behind and eventually tied the score at 24. In perhaps the game's most crucial point, Buccaneer senior Megan Clausen spiked a weak Eagle return for her fourth and final kill. She knew how important the point was, letting out a celebratory scream for all of Michael J. Jordan Gymnasium to hear.

"It was a great feeling," Clausen said. "It's adrenaline and just being happy. It was a big point that we needed to have."

Laney won the next point and clinched the match with a 26-24 victory.

Aside from Henry and Clausen, senior Rosie Faddoul led the Buccaneers with her team-high 13 assists. Faddoul provided quality sets to Laney's big hitters up front all night.

Ashley saw standout performances from senior Stella Johnson and junior Haley France. Johnson supplied a game-high 20 assists, while France led the Eagles with six kills. As a team, Ashley actually recorded four more kills than the Buccaneers.

"Overall there were a lot of those moments in the match that could go either way," Ashley coach Jerry Hogan said. "I loved the effort, but it was those big moments. We've lost a lot of sets by two points."

The Buccaneers now have a 2.5 game lead over Ashley for the final spot with six conference games remaining. With the victory, Laney is inching closer to a berth in the state volleyball playoffs.

"That was a very important match," coach Redwood-Sawyer said. "We've got some more big ones down the road but it was nice to get this victory and get some momentum."

Jackson Fuller-Starnews