Wetumpka’s volleyball team fought back and forth for much of the first set, but a late run in the first set gave Saraland enough momentum to win the match on Wednesday morning.
Saraland beat Wetumpka, 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-7) in straight sets in the first round of the South Super Regional Tournament held at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.
The Lady Indians led the first set, 16-15 and 17-16 late in the set, but Saraland went on a 8-2 run with its heavy hitters at the net to give the Lady Spartans a 1-0 lead in the match.
From there, it went downhill for Wetumpka.
“I feel like our girls played well in the first set, and I feel like once that set was over and it didn’t bounce our way that it was a total mental breakdown,” Wetumpka coach DeAnna Smith said. “I feel like they gave up on themselves and that is never a good place to be.”
Saraland, which sports a 52-4 record on the year, carried the momentum from it’s late first-set run into the second set, and the Lady Spartans jumped out to a quick 10-3 lead and never let the set get closer than that.
Saraland won the second set, 25-14, and led 2-0 after the set. That quickly turned into a dominating lead in the third set, and Saraland let Wetumpka 16-1 in the third and final set before the Lady Indians could get anything going.
Wetumpka ended up cutting the lead to 22-7, but couldn't get any closer as Saraland’s heavy hitters at the net spiked home the last two points of the match to give the Lady Spartans a 25-7 set win and 3-0 match win.
“Yeah, I think our youth and our inexperience just got to us,” coach DeAnna Smith said. “I kept talking to them about not letting the day be bigger than them, and not letting the moment be too big. But you have the large crowd and the cheering and chanting. The reality of it is that Saraland is a really good team and deserved that win. They played well and they met the moment. We just couldn’t get it going.”
Despite the loss, Wetumpka’s season was a successful one. The Lady Indians finished the year 23-17 and claimed the Class 6A, Area 5 championship for the fifth-consecutive season.
They showed throughout the year that they could play with any team at their best, and various wins throughout the year over Elmore County, Alabama Christian Academy, Prattville and Pike Road proved that.
That came during what Smith said during the preseason was going to be a rebuilding year. The Lady Indians lost four seniors from last year to this year, all starters, but this year’s squad showed they can still compete during a rebuilding year.
Wetumpka graduates three seniors this year, libero Erin Douglass, middle hitter Leah Richardson, and setter Kylie Wilson.
“They’re a great group, honestly,” Smith said of this team. “They’re a pleasure to coach and they really want to do well and 90% of the time, they believe in their skills. But obvioulsy, we are looking for that breakthrough. It’s better to be area champs than not, but this is the first time in three years we haven’t made it past the first round of the super regionals so that’s a little disappointing. We are trying to figure out what we need to do to get to that next level.”