Gallery by Karen Akers
Following an impressive win over Independence Tuesday night in the opening round of the Class AA Region 3, Section 1 Volleyball Tournament, Shady Spring head coach Kelly Williams had this to say about her girls.
“Everyone has something to give and when everyone is firing 100 percent, we look really good.”
Wednesday night with a trip to the sectional championship match on the line, Shady Spring proved Williams’ words to be true.
Losing starter Camille Testerman just nine points into the first set, the Tigers banded together for another impressive performance to beat Herbert Hoover, 3-0 in the best-of-five match.
“Unfortunately it looks like Camille maybe dislocated a pinky. You go into panic mode for a minute, but we prepare these girls all year long for anything,” coach Williams said. “When you can ask Kadence (Stump) to walk in and Alivia (Stover) to step into a different position and for them do a great job, that is all you can ask for.”
Coming off a strong weekend of its own where the Huskies won the Cardinal Conference Tournament, Herbert Hoover played inspired early.
A kill by Ashton Henrich evened the match at 9-9, but the story immediately became about Testerman who was injured on the block attempt and had to go to the sideline.
“Camille is a six position player. Without her, not only do we lack on the front row blocks, but we lack on the back row. She is leading our team in digs right now. So, it was a huge hole to fill,” senior Chloe Thompson said.
With the Shady Spring coaches scrambling to tend to Testerman and deciding on lineup strategy, the players seemed at ease and ready to play.
“We had that mid-season slump, but I feel like now our communication is the best it has ever been coming off some big wins this weekend. The last few practices have been high on communication and coming together as a team. This was a great example of that tonight,” Thompson said. “Kadence stepped right up. That was the time to use that communication that we had worked on. That is what it takes to get there and we are freaking doing it.”
Thompson started a three-point run by the Tigers with a kill before back-to-back attacking errors by the Huskies.
Although she looked understandably nervous when she first stepped on the floor, Stump, just a sophomore, quickly gathered herself to make a strong impact late in the opening set.
With Shady leading 20-17, Stump served out the match aided by three kills from Thompson and one each from Meg Williams and Reagan Mann.
Once the Tigers weathered the early storm, they never looked back.
“We definitely practice that. In past years we have had people get hurt and we really didn’t know what to do,” senior Meg Williams said. “So we practice for plan B and C, just in case something happens. We have that in our bag when we need it.”
Carrying the momentum into the second set, Shady Spring jumped out to a 6-1 lead anchored by two kills each from Meg Williams and Rachel Mann.
The lead went to seven points before Hoover made a mini run to cut the advantage back to three points. Three blasts from Thompson and one from Stover sent Shady on a 10-1 run for an easy 25-12 win.
Just a freshman, Stover played a key role up front after Testerman went down with the injury recording three kills and a pair of blocks.
“I think something that people may forget is they have been practicing against high level volleyball their entire career. Sometimes patience pays off. Sometimes its just not your turn, then all of a sudden it is your turn,” coach Williams said. “As long as you learn from your teammates, then you can feel confident when you go in there that you will know what you need to do.”
Set three was never in doubt as Shady rocketed out to a 9-2 lead behind big blasts from Thompson and Meg Williams. Five points was the closest margin the rest of the way in a 25-15 win.
Thompson and Meg Williams both ended the night with 14 kills apiece.
“Tonight we had to focus even more because we had Camille go out which added some more weight on our shoulders.” Meg Williams said. “We are having a good time and doing a lot better than we were earlier in the season with our emotions. I think we have finally gotten over that hump and now we are going up from here.”
In the first elimination match of the night, Independence and Nicholas County went to five sets. Trailing 2-1, the Patriots won the last two sets to stay alive and advance to meet Hoover in the final match of the night.
Although Indy played well early in its match with the Huskies, it could not overcome Hoover’s firepower in a 3-0 setback that ended its season.
Shady Spring and Herbert Hoover will meet Thursday night at 6 p.m. for the sectional championship with the Tigers needing one win for the title and the Huskies needing to win twice.
Both teams have already secured a berth in the regional championship Saturday being played at Independence High School. The sectional champion will play PikeView, while the runner-up will battle Wyoming East who won the AA Region 3, Section 2 title Tuesday night.
The regional matches will start at 2 p.m.