Lowndes County varsity volleyball teams make history, advance to regionals

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2022

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The story has been updated to reflect outcomes of both team’s performances in the Alabama High School Athletic Association 2022 1A South Super Regional Championships, which took place on Oct. 19.

Two Lowndes County varsity volleyball teams made history on Oct. 12, claiming Class 1A Area 4 champion and runner-up and earning a place in the Alabama High School Athletic Association 2022 1A South Super Regional Championships, which took place Wednesday.

Now in just their third year as a team, The Calhoun School, who finished 7-1, took home the 1A area championship in a 3-0 win in three sets (25-11, 25-12, 25-12) against 2-9 Central Hayneville.

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At regionals Wednesday, Wadley High School defeated the Tigers in all three sets (25-12, 25-13, 25-13) ,and Faith Christian School in Anniston took home the victory against Central Hayneville, winning three matches (25-6, 25-5, 25-8).

Tigers head coach Shanita Sumpter, coaching volleyball for the first time in Lowndes County, said the area championship win was historic in more ways than one.

“Calhoun has never had a volleyball team,” Sumpter explained. “This would be the first year ever that the girls have actually won (the) area and went all the way to sub-regions, which we will start on Wednesday of next week. The historical part is them actually having the team and then going past winning against the area for the chance to go to state.”

The team, composed of mostly juniors, has one senior captain, Jetzabel Fonseca, who understands the team is there to win and motivates her teammates toward their best game, Sumpter said.

“Before I arrived, the girls were playing more of a ‘pittypat’ game,” Sumpter recalled. “I took their basic experience and molded them into giving more of a bump, set, spike, making sure they have more control over the ball and played to the best of their ability.”

Jadyn Wheeler went 12 straight serves in one match and her teammate, Xochitl Fonseca, achieved 12 kills through all three games.

Jayda Sumpter, who played volleyball for the first time this year, completed the tournament with eight digs and two assists. Jayda attributes the team’s success to their sisterhood bond.

“We get along very well, like a family,” Jayda exclaimed. “We try to lift each other up. If we mess up on the court, we try to encourage each other, giving motivational speeches, helping with school and homework, and checking on each other.”

The Lions defeated J.F. Shields High School 3-0 in three sets (25-11, 25-9, 25-10) for the first match of the day.

Coach Kamesha Harrison, in her second year of coaching the Lions, said the girls played well and placed well enough to move to sub-regionals for the first time ever. The team showed significant progress, she noted, especially considering this is only their fourth year playing volleyball.

“My girls really started to fight and see what happens when they put their best foot forward,” Harrison declared. “They learned that when they communicate and work together, they can win. The girls really started working together, communicating with each other toward the last part of our season.”

Senior captain Zipporah Abercrombie, one of the best servers on the team Harrison noted, scored 12 aces. The Panthers just could not return her serves, Harrison added.

“Our team has come a long way,” exclaimed Lions co-captain Shamirria Rudolph. “We started with a few girls, then progressed and gained more girls. We had growth throughout this year, improving our skills. [The year] started off a little rough. We still have a long way to go but we’re getting there day by day.”