The Falcons breezed past Wadley 3-0 in their semifinal match, then did the same to Sacred Heart in the championship contest. As they did last year, both programs advance to the South Super Regional tournament in Montgomery on Friday and Saturday.
For Donoho, Monday was the first step toward a third straight Class 1A state championship. The Falcons defeated Sacred Heart 25-9, 25-13, 25-8 to advance as area champions. Middle hitter Corey Phillis closed out the first game with a pair of aces. Camry Swain dropped an ace just inside the back line to end game two and Hannah Christian’s kill from the middle ended the match.
Phillis and setter Rylee Segrest, the team’s two seniors, led the way for Donoho (34-10). Segrest had 29 assists, six aces and three kills against the Cardinals. Phillis recorded 12 kills and seven digs.
Equally important were offensive contributions of seven kills by Hannah Christian, six from Kayla Wallace and four apiece from Jordan Ray and Camille Fink. Earlier in the season, there were questions about who would be the supporting contributors Donoho has had on each of the past two state title teams.
“I think we’ve gotten a lot better,” Phillis said. “Now we’re really confident because we’ve seen what happened as we worked harder.”
The Falcons were unable to repeat as Calhoun County champions, but Segrest said even the loss to Jacksonville in the championship match turned into a positive by showing what had to be done to defeat tougher teams.
“I think we’re going to have a really good weekend,” she said of the coming super regional, adding that a 2-1 win over St. Luke’s, the strongest team on the opposite side of the super regional bracket, in a tournament two weeks ago in Gulf Shores boosted everyone’s confidence level.
Sacred Heart edged Faith 3-2 in the single-elimination semifinals. For the evening, Zainab Sanusi led the Cardinals with 25 kills. Kristen Rothwell had 15 kills and Haley Shaw added seven kills. Kerper, who did not play against Donoho to protect an ankle injured in a non-volleyball accident in the middle of last week, contributed 25 assists to the win over Faith.
For Faith (11-18), Peyton Camp had 26 assists and five aces. Brittany McDade and Madison Stephens each had seven kills and Hannah Turner had four kills. McDade added four aces and Stephens had eight digs.
Against Wadley, Donoho won 25-9, 25-8, 25-11 as coach Janice Slay substituted liberally. In the third game, freshman setter Katie Brown, up from the junior high team, served the Falcons to a 12-0 advantage. She also had 10 assists and five aces. Segrest had 16 assists and four aces. Christian had eight kills and Phillis six.