HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State's volleyball team saved one of its most complete efforts for the perfect time Sunday, pushing its Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) tournament championship title streak to seven years in a row.
Tournament MVP Cidavia Hall finished with 45 kills overall for Wallace State, and the top-seeded Lions cruised to the title, culminating with a 25-10, 25-19, 25-12 victory over Faulkner State in the ACCC/District O & P championship match at Gadsden State's Beck Field House.
With seven former Wallace State players in attendance who have been a part of the championship run, the 17th-ranked Lions (39-6) added another impressive chapter to the dominance.
"This one may be the most fun of the seven championships because of the way we played all day. The effort, attitude and energy we played with was the team I've been looking for all season. You have to be excited with how we played. I was able to sit there and relax because we played so well. It was very enjoyable," said Wallace State coach Randy Daniel, who has led the Lions to all seven titles and is the all-time winningest coach in program history.
Wallace State sophomore middle hitter Kheala Roberts was also impressed with the energy the Lions showcased.
"It was more excitement than we've played with all season. I told the team to bring out all the energy you have and leave it all on the court. It was awesome. I feel like it was the best we could play," said Roberts, a Danville graduate, who was an All-Tournament selection.
Roberts added the Lions drew inspiration from noticing many former teammates and Wallace State players in attendance.
"They are the ones who started this. They wanted to see us do well just like they did when they were here," Roberts said. "Winning is a tradition here. It's what you sign up for. We know when we go on the road the entire gym is against us. It's awesome to win in places like that."
Roberts had 13 kills in the championship match against Faulkner State after compiling eight kills in the semifinal round versus Gadsden State.
Sophomore setter Alexandra Gamble and freshman Kelsea Bivins joined Roberts and Hall as all-tournament selections for Wallace State. Gamble, a Geraldine native, finished with 113 assists in three matches, including 38 against Faulkner State. Bivins, a Thompson grad, added 32 kills and five digs in the tournament.
Wallace State opened the tournament Saturday with a 25-14, 25-13, 19-25, 25-17 victory over Snead State and defeated rival Gadsden State 25-20, 25-22, 25-21 in Sunday morning's semifinal round.
Playing Faulkner State in the championship match for the first time in three years, Wallace State cruised in the finals. The Lions trailed only once throughout, by one point early in the second set.
"It was an exciting day, and it's a special time for us," Hall said. "We all stepped up, came together and had fun."
With the victory, Wallace State advances to the NJCAA Division I volleyball national tournament to be held in Casper, Wyo., on Nov. 19-21. It will mark the Lions' seventh consecutive national tournament appearance.
Cierra Davis finished with 26 digs and 15 kills in the tournament for Wallace State, August Newberry registered 42 digs, sophomore Sidney Cooper added 22 digs, including 13 in the championship match, and freshman MaKenzie Bearden had 22 kills.
Hall, Roberts, Gamble, Cooper, Tidwell and Stephanie Eckerd are the sophomores on this season's team.
"All of the sophomores played really well in the tournament. Leadership is the key, and this group is special," Daniel said. "You have to be happy with them."
Wallace State earned the tournament's top seed after winning its eighth consecutive ACCC regular-season crown, finishing with a perfect 14-0 record in league play.
Prior to the tournament, Wallace State's Hall was named the 2015 ACCC Player of the Year for her regular-season accomplishments. The Dothan native led the conference this season in kills, blocks, hitting percentage, kills per set and blocks per set. She has committed to play for Alabama next season.
Roberts and Gamble were also first-team ACCC All-Region selections for Wallace State. Bivins, Davis and Newberry were each named to the 2nd-team ACCC All-Region team.
Other members of Wallace State's 2015 team not previously mentioned are Jamie Pittman, Beth Maples, Latresia Williams, Mallory Patterson and Tara Miller.
As conference runner-up, Faulkner State advances to the NJCAA District P playoff to be held Nov. 10 in Bay Minette. The winner of the playoff also advances to the national tournament.
Pictured at top: Members of the Wallace State volleyball team are, front row, from left, Cierra Davis, August Newberry and Sidney Cooper, middle row, from left, assistant coach Jamiee Freeman, Jamie Pittman, Savanna Tidwell, Kheala Roberts, Cidavia Hall, MaKenzie Bearden and Beth Maples, back row, from left, assistant coach Montana Clark, Kelsea Bivins, Tara Miller, coach Randy Daniel, Alexandra Gamble, Latresia Williams, Mallory Patterson and manager Keith McCormick.
Runner-up Faulkner State Lady Sun Chiefs
2015 All-Tournament Team
Julia Panas – Spartanburg Methodist
Caroline Simpson – Southern Union State
Sara Rhodes – Snead State
Summer Hinton – Gadsden State
Emma Easley – Gadsden State
Tatiana Dale – Faulkner State
Hannah Steale – Faulkner State
Megan Zulli – Faulkner State
Kelsea Bivins - Wallace State
Kheala Roberts – Wallace State
Alex Gamble – Wallace State
Cidavia Hall – Wallace State - MVP