The Wetumpka volleyball team was without its starting senior libero on Thursday night, but that didn’t stop the Lady Indians from playing spoiler to Stanhope Elmore’s Senior Night.
Wetumpka beat Stanhope, 3-0 (26-24, 25-19, 25-19) in each of the team’s last regular season game. The next game for each team will come on Thursday in the area tournament at Wetumpka.
Senior Erin Douglass, one of Wetumpka’s best players and starting libero, was not in attendance for the win due to personal reasons. In her place, head coach DeAnna Smith started eighth grader Ashlynn Turner, and the Lady Indians rallied around the youngster.
“We were able to pull that one out,” Smith said. “The fact that we had to throw in an eighth grader at starting libero for the first time ever and in an area game on their senior night with lots of emotions, I’m proud of the way we stepped up and played. It shows we are able to fight. Even with adversity, they aren’t going to quit on each other and that’s important.”
It was a total team effort for Wetumpka.
The Lady Indians were led by outside hitter Khloe Harris, like usual, but the rest of the team stepped up when needed time after time. Harris finished the three-set match with a team-high 15 kills and 3 service aces.
Alongside her, junior Julie Boshell had six kills and five aces, senior Leah Richardson had five kills and one ace, sophomore Star Angier had four kills, and junior Madison Milton had six kills and two aces.
“I was proud of it. We can’t be a one-trick pony so the fact that the setters were able to set the ball around and it seemed like every single hitter stepped up. I was really, really pleased with it. Khloe is a baller. She’s a gamer and has good vision. She has a love for the game and won’t ever go out without a fight.”
While Wetumpka won the match, 3-0, Stanhope did not go down without a fight.
The two teams went back and forth for much of the first set. Wetumpka led 20-15 and 24-21, but Stanhope battled back with two blocks to tie it at 24. After a Richardson kill, Stanhope hit the ball into the net and Wetumpka took a 1-0 lead.
The Lady Indians controlled momentum from that point on. Wetumpka led by more than five points much of the second set, and got to set point with a 24-14 lead. Stanhope, however, fought back once again with five consecutive points, but could not get it any closer than 24-19 before Wetumpka took a 2-0 lead.
“They fought really hard tonight,” Stanhope coach Flavia Freeney said. “Our girls are tremendous. They are really the most amazing group of ladies and they have that resiliency. They support each other so much and I’ve always been amazed at this group of girls. They pick each other up and support each other.”
Much like the second set, Wetumpka controlled the third set as well. The Lady Indians held a 14-12 lead midway through, but went on a 7-0 run to stretch their lead out to 21-12.
Up 22-14 just a few points later, Stanhope fought back with five straight points, four of which came on Saiban Chappell service aces.
After cutting it to 22-19, Wetumpka scored three straight to claim the 3-0 win.
The loss was probably the last home game for eight Stanhope seniors. Before the game, Campbell, Kennedy Rudolph, Rylie Grimes, Kelbi Johnson, MacKenzie Foshee, Anna Wilson, Marissa Stephens and Jerrica Word were honored in a very emotional Senior Night festivities.
This was Freeney’s first year coaching volleyball for Stanhope, but she’s been around this group of seniors for the last few years and came to tears trying to describe what this class meant to her.
“This is just such an amazing group of ladies,” Freeney said while tearing up. “They have my heart.”
The two teams will hit the volleyball court again on Thursday for the area tournament held at Wetumpka high school.
No. 3 seed Stanhope and No. 2 seed Benjamin Russell will play at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday in the first round. The winner of that game will not only go on to face Wetumpka in the area championship, but will also punch its ticket to the playoffs.
Due to being the No. 1 seed in only a three-team area, Wetumpka has already clinched a playoff berth.