BOAZ, ALA. – Wallace State's volleyball team has stretched its Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC)/Region 22 tournament championship streak to nine.
The Lions defeated Coastal Alabama-South (19-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-26, 15-12) in five sets on Sunday at Snead State's Plunkett Wallace Gymnasium, capping yet again an undefeated run in the tournament and another conference title.
"Through this streak, every team is different. We began the season inexperienced, and our players were grilled about or heard how they would be the team to end the streak. That wasn't fair to them and they weren't worried about it. The freshmen were trying to win their first one, and I'm proud for the team they accomplished it," said Wallace State coach Randy Daniel, who has orchestrated all nine championships. "I'm also happy for the sophomores. They get to leave here winning two championships in a row."
Wallace State (34-8) opened the tournament Saturday by sweeping Gadsden State with a 25-18, 25-17, 25-12 victory. On Sunday morning, the top-seeded Lions inched closer to the championship with a 25-20, 25-18, 25-18 win over second-seeded Coastal Alabama-South.
Wallace State met the Sun Chiefs in the title match for the third year in a row and outlasted Coastal Alabama-South, formerly Faulkner State, in five sets, overcoming an early three-point deficit in the decisive game. The Lions won the second, third and fifth sets.
"You have to give credit to Coastal Alabama-South. They played us tough in the earlier match and gave us everything we could want in the championship. They are a well-coached team, and they play hard. I have a lot of respect for them. They made us fight for it," said Daniel, who surpassed the 400-career win plateau this season at Wallace State.
Wallace State freshman Lexie Riggins agreed.
"We had to give everything we had in the end and fought extremely hard. We do the little things in practice each and every day to be ready for situations like we faced in this match," Riggins said. "It makes me feel good we had to fight for it. You aren't given anything when you wear this jersey. You have to fight for it because you have a target on your back."
Riggins, a 5-foot-10 middle hitter, was named the ACCC Tournament MVP after finishing with 38 kills, eight digs and six blocks over the three-match stretch.
The Chelsea grad was also named to the All-ACCC/Region 22 first team for her regular season work.
"It does mean a lot to be named the MVP. I give the sophomores and coach Daniel so much credit for helping become a better player. It's rewarding to know I helped our team this much," Riggins said.
Wallace State sophomore setter Abby Borden was named the 2017 ACCC Player of the Year and was also named to the All-Tournament team after racking up 111 and 24 digs in three matches. Borden has 1,396 assists this season.
"This championship is sweeter to me as a sophomore because we worked so hard this season. We had different people step up when it mattered the most," said Borden, an Arab graduate.
Sophomore outside hitter Kaylee Maddox and freshman middle hitter Maya Jones were also All-Tournament selections for Wallace State. Maddox, a 2nd-team All-ACCC/Region 22 selection, finished with 51 kills and 31 digs in the tournament.
Wallace State was a perfect 16-0 in league play during the regular season, extending the Lions' ACCC regular season winning streak to 56 matches and earning their 10th consecutive regular season title under Daniel.
Borden, Maddox, Emily Wilson, Kati Thomas and Caroline Gann are the Wallace State sophomores who won their second championships on Sunday.
"This championship is special to me because it is my sophomore season, and I know how hard we had to fight. There were some doubters, but we worked hard from the first day," Wilson said, who led the ACCC in digs during the regular season and had 18 in the championship match.
Freshman Alex Wiggins finished with 11 kills and nine digs for the Lions in the title match.
Wiggins, Riggins, Jones, Courtlyn Barber, Morgan Kyles, Katie Edwards, Kelsey Borden, Kennedy Watford, Hannah Simmons, Macy Green and Andrea Jacques are the freshman to win their first championship with the Lions.
With the victory, Wallace State advances to the NJCAA Division I volleyball national tournament to be held in Hutchinson, Kan., on Nov. 16-18. It will mark the Lions ninth consecutive national tournament appearance.
Lily Hawkins - Snead State CC
Artasia Dubose - Lawson State CC
Madison Shelby - Gadsden State CC
Hallie Cox - Southern Union State CC
Courtney Poole - Southern Union State CC
Hannah Fernandez - Coastal Alabama-South
Jackie Copeland - Coastal Alabama-South
Mikayla Richard - Coastal Alabama-South
Maya Jones - Wallace State CC
Kaylee Maddox - Wallace State CC
Abby Borden - Wallace State CC
Lexie Riggins - Wallace State CC - Tournament Most Valuable Player (pictured below)