Lady Patriots send off seniors with win over Evangel

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It was a doubly special night on the campus of Pike Liberal Arts as the volleyball team celebrated senior night and raised awareness for breast cancer.

The Lady Patriots saluted their seniors in style with a dominant straight set victory (25-11, 25-16, 25-13) over the Evangel Christian Lions.

Before the game, each senior was escorted by her parents and given a rose and a picture of her fellow seniors by the team.

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In all, there are six seniors who have played volleyball for the Patriots since seventh grade.

Shelby Baggett is the daughter of Ray and Deanne Baggett. She has played varsity volleyball for five years.

Mackenzi Johnson is the daughter of Mike Johnson and Stacey Dean. She has played varsity volleyball for four years.

Kailee Taylor is the daughter of David and Denise Taylor. She has played varsity volleyball for five years.

Marlee Tunstill is the daughter of Walter and Brooke Murphy and Reed and Jennifer Tunstill. She has played varsity volleyball for three years.

Carrley Barron is the daughter of Lavonne Barron and Bronda Dennison. She has played varsity volleyball for four years.

Ellie Barron is the granddaughter of Jane Barron and the daughter of Mark and Joanna Kilpatrick. She has played varsity volleyball for four years.

The senior class is one of the most decorated in Patriot history.

The group played in the regional tournament every year, and all the seniors played in the state JV tournament when they were freshman, placing second overall and winning the Sportsmanship Award.

They were voted “Best All-Around” their sophomore season and scored the most points in Alabama during their junior year.

Head coach Mendy Avant was named “Coach of the Year” by the AISA during their junior season.

In the first set of the match, the Lady Patriots never trailed and were in commanding form, cruising to a 25-11 victory.

The second set was more of a challenge for the Lady Patriots. They dug themselves into an early hole, losing the first five points of the match and ultimately falling behind the Lions 8-2.

The Lady Pats rebounded, though, to tie the game at 15. Pike went on to win 10 of the set’s last 11 points to win comfortably 25-16.

Coach Avant called the game’s final set her team’s most complete performance. The Lady Patriots dominated throughout the set, which saw some precision passing and kills.

“Out third set was the best,” Avant said. “We finally got around to digging, setting, passing, and killing. When you’re out there playing survival ball—just trying to hit the ball over the net—that’s going to kill you in the long run.”

Avant also said that it has been a pleasure to coach this group of seniors. “”They’re a great group of girls,” Avant said. “They work hard, and they’re close together. Sometimes that’s a good thing, other times a bad thing. They are going to be sorely missed.”

In addition to honoring the seniors, the Lady Patriots also held a fundraiser to raise cancer awareness.

All proceeds from the game will be donated to the Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer.

With the win over Evangel, the Lady Patriots have completed their regular season.

They now advance to the postseason where they will host the Glenwood Gators next Monday in Troy.

Coach Avant said her girls are carrying over their focus from the regular season into the state playoffs. “We’re just going to meet at 7 a.m. to go run and then practice like we’ve been doing.”