DAPHNE – The Spanish Fort Toros outlasted the Bayside Academy Admirals Thursday night in a fourth set that featured 13 ties to earn a 3-1 victory (25-22, 25-21, 25-27, 25-22) that claimed the …
DAPHNE – The Spanish Fort Toros outlasted the Bayside Academy Admirals Thursday night in a fourth set that featured 13 ties to earn a 3-1 victory (25-22, 25-21, 25-27, 25-22) that claimed the Class 6A Area 2 tournament championship to receive the top seed heading into the South Super Regional.
It was just nine days ago that Bayside Academy beat Spanish Fort 3-1 to split the teams’ regular-season matches and spoil the Toros’ dreams of being regular-season area champions.
But the short turnaround helped the team not only process the defeat quickly but also dial into the changes that Spanish Fort head coach Gretchen Boykin said made the difference tonight.
“Our team worked on adjustments, and we totally believed in the adjustments we made and we executed them really well,” Boykin said. “And that was good because we only had a couple of days to do it, so I just think they did a great job of executing the game plan.”
Toros focus on passing, consistency in practice
One of the stark differences between the last match and Thursday’s was in Spanish Fort’s passing after receiving the Admirals’ serves which contributed to the full-team effort that sealed the victory.
“When we played here the last time, our serve receive passing was not there and that makes the difference in the game so I’m really proud of them for stepping up and taking care of that,” Boykin said.
Even after Bayside Academy stormed back to steal the third set and force a fourth with its backs against the wall, Boykin reminded her team to stick to the game plan and continue paying attention to detail.
“I told them going into the third set that they weren’t going to give up, they weren’t going to lay down; we just have to keep grinding,” Boykin said. “I said whoever wins, it’s going to come down to serve receive passing, consistency and getting the momentum and keeping the momentum. When the other team makes a play, we have to bounce right back and not let them get runs.”
Fourth set brings all the drama, multitude of ties down the stretch
The Toros were indeed able to do that and matched the Admirals’ point production in the fourth set to elicit 13 ties in the stanza, including one at every point from 14-18 and at 21. Even with Bayside Academy facing match point, Boykin knew there would still be no quit from the 20-time defending state champion Admirals.
“That last game we started off slow, then we bounced back and tied it up then it went back and forth for a while,” Boykin said. “Then just getting a little two-point lead was nice at 24-22, but you know it’s still not over because anything can happen.”
Spanish Fort seals win but needs to flip page quickly
The Toros took down Robertsdale (25-12, 25-6, 25-6) and Bayside Academy to earn the No. 1 seed heading into the South Super Regional. With the next tournament scheduled to run Oct. 19-21, Boykin said the team can certainly enjoy the win, but it won’t be for too long.
“That’s great and we can enjoy (being area tournament champions) today, and maybe tomorrow, but after that, it’s a clean slate when you go to regionals, so we’ll start all over again,” Boykin said. “We’ll enjoy it now, but we’ll get back to work and try to prepare ourselves to win a region championship; and we know that’s not going to be easy either.”
Admirals’ 21st state championship gets one step closer
With a semifinal win over Baldwin County (25-20, 25-9, 25-16), Bayside Academy took its next step toward hoisting a 21st consecutive state championship which would extend the school’s national record. The Admirals take the No. 2 seed into the South Super Regional but as Boykin said, the slate is wiped clean.
The Baldwin County Tigers and Robertsdale Golden Bears found the end of the road but Spanish Fort and Bayside Academy will represent Area 2 in the Class 6A South Super Regional starting Oct. 19 in Montgomery.
The Toros and Admirals will be joined by area champions Gulf Shores (Class 5A) and Orange Beach (Class 4A) as well as 5A Area 1 runner-up Elberta in representing Baldwin County in the next round of the playoffs.