By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
With less than a week to go before the Cullman County Volleyball Tournament, Rosemary Brown was looking for a little something out of her squad as they prepared to collide with Cullman and East Limestone on Thursday afternoon.
Good Hope heeded their coach’s call, defeating the Indians 25-18, 15-25, 15-11 and the Bearcats 25-11, 25-17 to pick up two momentum-building victories heading into next week’s clash of county titans.
“I thought we played a lot better than we’ve been playing,” the longtime Raider coach said. “We’ve been struggling lately, so hopefully it’s coming together at the right time.”
Aside from a loose second set, the Red and White had no trouble dispatching East Limestone. The Raiders covered the court with tremendous effort and put away point after point at the net to stake claim to their first win of the afternoon.
Katelyn Bishop led her team with seven kills and four blocks, while Alannah Henke added six kills and a block. Kayla Scott was good for five kills and two aces. Sierra Kinser pitched in with four kills and six pass assists. Hannah Smith also provided 11 sets for the Raiders.
While Brown’s players were effective against the Indians, they saved their best for last when they took the court against the Black and Gold.
Leading 14-8 midway through the first set, Good Hope reeled off 11 of the next 14 points to get a leg up on Cullman. The following set was more of the same, as the Raiders tacked on several points early to build a lead they didn’t relinquish.
According to Brown, it was two simple things that led to such good results for the Red and White.
“We played good team ball today, and we picked up a lot of balls that should have hit the floor,” she said. “It’s kind of like we are gelling together right now.”
Henke was on point against the Bearcats, collecting seven kills and three blocks in the win. Other Good Hope contributors included Bishop, four kills and two aces; Kaylee Maddox, four kills; Kinsler, three kills; and Smith, five sets.
As the Raiders get set to head to Cold Springs next Tuesday for opening-round play in the county tournament, Brown likes where her team is at and how focused they seem to be. Good Hope will be seeking its first county crown since 2010.
“Right here at the end is when it needs to come together,” she said. “I think we have a good chance, but there are a lot of good teams to beat.”
Although the Bearcats came up empty against Good Hope, they more than handled the Indians 25-22, 25-20, 25-21 in a critical Class 5A, Area 15 matchup. Cullman’s win moved them to 2-2 in the area, bringing the Black and Gold all the more closer to a pivotal top-two seed in the area tournament.
“I saw a lot of improvement tonight,” Bearcat coach Michelle Greenlee said. “All the girls were working hard. An area win is always nice, especially when its 3-0 like this one.”
Cullman will head to Austin next week to participate in one of its biggest tournaments of the year, as teams from all over the state will head north to take part in the event.
Stats for the Bearcats were unavailable at presstime.
In junior varsity action, East Limestone handled both Cullman and Good Hope — 26-24, 16-25, 15-11 and 21-25, 26-24, 15-12 — while the Raiders outlasted the Bearcats 25-21, 25-23 in the last match of the night.
Prep Volleyball Poll
The latest installment of AL.com’s weekly volleyball rankings had Addison holding strong at the top spot in Class 1A with a 22-3 record going into Thursday’s schedule.
Cold Springs came in at No. 6 in 2A with a 24-4 mark, while Good Hope claimed ninth in 3A. The Raiders are 15-11 after Thursday’s trimatch sweep.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.