FROM KYLE PARMLEY and 280 LIVING
MOUNTAIN BROOK – The Eagles are rolling again.
After getting briefly knocked off course last week, the Oak Mountain High School volleyball team navigated two tough foes — Spain Park and Mountain Brook — to win the Class 7A, Area 6 tournament at Mountain Brook High School.
“I know it means a world to them, but it’s still not their goal,” said Oak Mountain coach Tien Le. “Their goal is to win a state title.”
Oak Mountain got revenge on Spain Park after the Jags knocked off the Eagles last week to force a three-way tie atop the area standings. Mountain Brook came out of that tiebreaker with the top seed and hosting rights.
The loss last week served as a temporary road block for Oak Mountain, which drew out a symbolic road map before the season began. That map illustrates the necessary directions and steps the team needed to take to reach its ultimate destination: the state championship match.
But the Eagles are back on track now.
They defeated Spain Park, 3-1 (25-15, 24-26, 25-18, 28-26), in an elimination match filled with energy and entertainment in the opening round of the area tournament. Both teams were well-represented in the stands, and each point elicited elation from either side.
“I can’t say enough,” said Spain Park coach Kellye Bowen. “They sold out. That team [Oak Mountain] is a really, really good team. They brought their A-game, we brought ours, they were just better today.”
Bowen said it took her team some time to settle into the match with the atmosphere being as intense as it was.
In the first set, the Eagles jumped out to a 12-5 lead, and although Spain Park cut the deficit to a single point, Oak Mountain never lost the lead and won 10 of the last 11 points to win 25-15.
The second set was much of the same, with the Eagles securing a 12-5 edge once again. This time, Marlee Johnson and Paris Morris got hot for Spain Park. The Jags stormed back and went ahead for good with five straight points to go up 22-18. Spain Park held on for the 26-24 win.
In the third, Oak Mountain got the same 12-5 advantage, but extended it instead of allowing Spain Park back in. Several kills from Torie Denkers in the set led the way for the 25-18 Oak Mountain set win.
The final set was a tight affair. Neither team led by more than three points at any stage of the set, and Spain Park staved off two match points before Kendall Scharbert settled things with a pair of kills to send her team to a 28-26 victory.
Spain Park finished the season with a 24-12 record, matching the most wins in Bowen’s four-year tenure. The Jags will lose setter Caroline Horton and Johnson, an outside hitter to graduation after this season.
Bowen said, “I can’t say enough about them. They’re two great, unbelievable leaders. They kept the girls focused, they kept us in the ball game. When they’re out there on the floor, I have no worries. It’s a peace of mind. It’s something we’re going to miss.”
The final was icing on the cake, and gives the Eagles a better draw at the North Super Regional Tournament.
The Eagles defeated Mountain Brook, 3-1 (26-24, 25-23, 21-25, 26-24), in a tight final. Oak Mountain notched just two more total points than Mountain Brook in the match and staved off three consecutive set points to rally and win the fourth set.
Now, Oak Mountain prepares for its next stop; the super regional tournament in Huntsville, to be held over the weekend. The Eagles play Grissom at 9 a.m. Friday at the Von Braun Center. A win in that match qualifies Oak Mountain for the state tournament.
Being in a similar position to that on Tuesday should work out well for the Eagles, as they have the experience from the stakes of the Spain Park match to fall back on.
“It was good for us, because from here on, it’s one do-or-die. It was good preparation for us going in knowing we have to step up,” Le said.
Oak Mountain has been touted as a potential threat for the state title all season long, and the Eagles have not shied away from that goal. The only thing standing between that goal and its realization is less of the opponent and more of the team on the same side of the net.
“This team’s worst enemy is this team,” Le said. “As long as this team can stay disciplined long enough — from point one to the last — no one can stop them but us.”