There are very few outliers in team sports. There are so few great teams that the human mind can easily recall the great teams that it has witnessed in the thousands of games that most people see throughout their lives. Those great teams are endeared, but the pinnacle is not reached until they hoist the championship trophy at the top of the mountain.
Jasper Viking Volleyball coached by Bobby Daniels were a great team this year. So good in fact, that teams in the future will always be measured against this one. The Vikes lost only 5 matches all year, three to 7A Champion McGill-Toolen, one to 7A Runners-Up Bob Jones, and one to perennial 7A power Mountain Brook. Carding only 5 losses while playing one of the toughest schedules regardless of classification, the Vikes won a school record 70 matches. In those 70 victories, the Lady Vikes did not lose a single set in 5A competition.
Jasper claimed an AHSAA North Super Regional Championship for the second year in a row (6A 2017 & 5A 2018) , which are the only two Super Regional Championships in school history. In Super Regional play, the ladies defeated Pleasant Grove (25-6, 25-4, 25-4), Brewer (25-22, 25-17, 25-13), Madison Academy (25-19, 25-18, 25-12), and Arab (25-11, 25-13, 25-12) en route to victory and a #1 seed in the State Tournament.
Advancing to the State Tournament amped up the Viking intensity, but the ladies answered every question and took all comers on their way to Jasper High School’s first Volleyball State Championship. The Vikes defeated Satsuma (25-8, 25-13, 25-17), Brewbaker Tech (27-25, 25-18, 25-13), and St James (25-20, 25-16, 25-19), and when the blue map was handed out, the Vikes left no doubt about who the best team in 5A was, which was a goal the Vikings had going into the tournament.
As tough as last year’s 6A State Championship Game ending was to stomach (A match the Vikes lost to Pelham in extras in the 5th set) , this one was that much more enjoyable. Coach Daniels has preached to his team since the first day he arrived at Jasper High School that “things don’t happen to you, they happen for you”, and the Vikings used last year’s ending as motivation for this year’s run. It was as if this team had today’s date circled for 364 days, and all the hard work, pain, and frustration of the last year went away with an Alex Oliver kill in the 3rd set that rolled down the top of the net and fell to the ground. As the Viking crowd clad in all black bursted from a roar to a frenzy, the Vikes were able to exhale. All that they had been holding in for the last year was let out as they grabbed the blue map from the hands of AHSAA Associate Director, Mrs Denise Ainsworth. At that time, at the very time the ball hit the floor, at 1:00 p.m. inside Bill Harris Arena At the Birmingham Crossplex, it was VTime!
In today’s Championship Match Over St James, McKinley Ferguson led the Vikes in kills with 14, while Alex Oliver added 9. As she has all year, Molly Kate Atkins led the Vikings in assists with 34. Abby Trotter and Alex Oliver both had 13 digs to set the tone defensively, while Ferguson added 10 of her own. Alex Oliver and Jordan Gilbert were very physical at the met with 4 blocks a piece.
The 5A All-Tournament Team was made up of Anna Katherine Griggs (Arab), Carson Ann Crow and Emilyl Olsey (St James), Alex Oliver, Molly Kate Atkins, and McKinley Ferguson (Jasper). McKinley Ferguson was named the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
This team has been an absolute pleasure to watch compete this year, and they have represented their families, their school, and their community with class every step of the way. Jasper, Here’s To You!