By Russell Moore
Special To The Times
Wallace State’s volleyball team has won four consecutive Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) tournament championships on the road.
The Lions’ quest for a fifth straight title begins Saturday, this time on their home court.
Wallace State is set to host the ACCC/NJCAA O & P District tournament at Tom Drake Coliseum on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s first match features Snead State vs. Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist College at 9 a.m. followed by Faulkner State and Gadsden State respective matches. The top-seeded Lions play the winner of the opening match at 1 p.m.
The championship match is scheduled for Sunday at noon.
General admission to the double-elimination tournament is $7 for adults and $5 for senior citizens. Children 6-and-under are admitted free. Additionally, high school volleyball players are invited to attend at a discounted rate.
“We are elated about hosting the volleyball tournament. It will be two days of highly competitive volleyball, and we encourage all sports fans to come out and watch what these teams have to offer,” said Wallace State Director of Athletics Paul Bailey. “We take pride in hosting events like these. We’ll treat it just like we do the AHSAA Northwest Regional each year and the junior college basketball tournament we hosted in March.”
Wallace State (26-14, 13-1 ACCC) is once again the tournament’s top seed after winning all but one conference match during the regular season. The Lions, who played a daunting non-conference schedule, battled inconsistencies at times this season, but always saved their best performances for league play.
The Lions split with second-seeded Gadsden State during their regular season conference matches and swept both Faulkner State and Snead State.
“Consistency has been the concern for us all year. We’ve talked about that, harped on it and tried to get players to accept certain roles. That shows up in our record, but when it’s been crunch time, the team has stepped up,” Wallace State coach Randy Daniel said. “We won some big matches at home, so I hope we step up again this weekend and play well in front of our home crowd.”
Wallace State is only three wins away from another state championship and its 14th NJCAA national tournament appearance. The Lions defeated Gadsden State in three straight ACCC championship matches from 2009-2011 and Faulkner State last season.
“I feel this tournament is more wide open than it has been in the past. Every team has been playing well lately. It’s going to be two interesting days of volleyball,” Daniel said. “It’s going to take the strongest effort we’ve had for us to win another title.”
Wallace State sophomore Kianna Delaney has put together a stellar season and is a solid ACCC Player of the Year candidate. Delaney leads the conference in three categories, tallying 427 kills, 119 blocks and 3.16 kills per set. She is also second in the conference with a .347 hitting percentage.
Wallace State freshman BreAnna Thompson is second in the conference with 358 kills, while Bethany Johnson is third with 336. Syretha Pride leads the league with a .382 hitting percentage and Payton Norris is third with 325 digs.
The ACCC champ and runner-up will both advance to the NJCAA Division I tournament in Casper, Wyo., which is scheduled for Nov. 21-23.