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Southside wins Etowah County volleyball tourney


HOKES BLUFF — The Southside Panthers rolled through four matches Saturday, capping their run with a 25-20, 25-9 win over Gaston to claim the championship of the Etowah County volleyball tournament.

The wins Saturday gave the Panthers their second straight Etowah County championship.

“We had some really good points,” Southside coach Dee Ayres said. “We got to run our offense a lot once we got our passing together, so I think overall we had a pretty good day.”

The Panthers started their day with a win over Sardis in two games before defeating Gaston to send the Bulldogs to the losers’ bracket. Southside then defeated West End in three games to reach the final. Gaston, who had a first-round bye, fought back through the losers’ bracket with wins over Glencoe, Hokes Bluff and West End to reach the championship.

“The day went pretty well,” Gaston coach Kathy Brown said. “We put ourselves in a hole to begin with by losing the first game this morning against Southside, so it forced us to play back-to-back-to-back, and I think eventually the fatigue just caught up with us.”

In the championship match, Southside got out to strong starts in both games. The Panthers jumped to an 8-2 lead in the first game and a 9-1 lead in the second.

“Every time we’re in the huddle we talk about how you’ve got to start strong,” Ayres said. “When you start strong and get on the other team, it helps momentum-wise and it helps confidence on our side as far as being able to run our different plays.”

Blaise Brown, who recorded 64 assists on the day, was named the Most Valuable Player of the all-tournament team.

“She runs our offense,” Ayres said of Brown. “She’s like our quarterback. She does a great job. She’s a game-changer on our side of the court.”

Also for Southside, Katie Mitchell had a team-high 25 kills on the day to go with 19 digs, while Madison Clayton and Chelsey Newton had 20 kills apiece. Newton also had 11 blocks, and Bailey Gilchrist had 19 digs.

Mitchell, Newton and Clayton all joined Brown on the all-tournament team. Also making the squad were Gaston’s Madison Reaves, Tanna Lawson and Morgan Beaird; West End’s Morgan Cleveland and Haley Fulenwider; and Hokes Bluff’s Kelsey Turner and Malory Moland.

Both Southside and Gaston will finish regular-season play this week before hosting their respective area tournaments to begin postseason play. Gaston will host the Class 1A, Area 11 tournament Oct. 10, while Southside will host the 5A, Area 12 tournament Oct. 11.

“I’m excited about it,” Ayres said. “Hopefully this will give us some confidence and we’ll get on a roll.”