By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
GARDENDALE — Gardendale finished third overall in Saturday's Jefferson County Large Schools Volleyball Tournament, played in their home gym.
The Rockets had the highest placement among the three local teams entered. They started their run with a first-round win over Hueytown, then lost in the second match of the day to Clay-Chalkville. Gardendale dropped into the loser's bracket of the double-elimination tournament, where they eliminated rival Mortimer Jordan 25-16, 25-15.
The Rockets had to survive a tight match in the loser's bracket semifinal, as they prevailed over McAdory by a 25-23, 17-25, 15-13 score. The end finally came for the hosts in a rematch with Clay-Chalkville, which they lost 25-22, 21-25, 15-10 in the loser's bracket final.
Outside hitter Cassie Snow tallied nine kills and eight digs in the loss to the Cougars. Setter Kelsey Hallmark gave out 18 assists, and Katlyn Bailey added five kills and two aces. Snow, along with teammate Taylor Holt, made the all-tournament squad.
Hosting the tournament actually worked against the Rockets in one respect: they lost front-line stalwart Carrigan Fain to a foot injury when a cart carrying floor mats rolled over her. She showed up Saturday on crutches. The injury isn't terribly serious, though it was enough for her future college softball coach — Alabama's Pat Murphy — to call and check up on her. Fain's status for area tournament play next week is uncertain for now.
Minor took the overall championship, but just barely. The final match against Clay-Chalkville went to three sets, with the Tigers prevailing by a 24-26, 25-20, 15-13 score.
Jordan fell in a first-round contest against McAdory, then came back in a loser's bracket match to defeat Center Point before falling to Gardendale.
After struggling through the regular season, Pinson Valley had a good run as one of the bottom seeds in the nine-team bracket. After losing to Center Point in the play-in game, they defeated Shades Valley in their first loser's bracket round and Hueytown in their second, before finally falling in straight sets to McAdory.