Montgomery Academy wins state volleyball championship

Montgomery Academy wins state volleyball championship

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Montgomery Academy wins state volleyball championship

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BIRMINGHAM — The last game of the season for Montgomery Academy the last two seasons has been against Providence Christian, but with very different endings.
Last year, it was heartbreak, failing to reach the state tournament for the first time since 1983.
But this year’s Montgomery Academy was different. A team built on the principles of camaraderie and selflessness, the Eagles used words of encouragement – their own words – to guide them through the last month of the season, and to a state title victory.
“The whole month of October, we did a quote of the day,” MA coach Julie Sinclair said. “I started, and then every player on the team did a quote of the day…
“The quote for today was: we took turns, and everybody read their own quote. And I said, ‘You all did a great job, these quotes are indicative of what our team’s been about all season. If you truly believe in your heart what these quotes say, we’re going to win.’ They believed it, and we won.”
Montgomery Academy defeated two-time defending state champion Providence Christian in four games to win the Class 2A state volleyball title at the Birmingham CrossPlex on Thursday.
“I’ve worked so hard since seventh grade, and to finish my high school career with a state championship is phenomenal,” senior setter Rachel Lee said. “It’s a personal goal (to win a state championship), but beating them was just icing on the cake because they were the ones that knocked us out last year.”
It’s the fourth time Montgomery Academy and Providence Christian had matched up this season, but the three previous MA sweeps would have meant nothing if the last one didn’t end the same.
“It was everything that we worked up to,” MA outside hitter Jillian Tinglin said, who was named tournament MVP. “The other games almost felt like practice. But this was the one that counted for it all. This was the most important game.”
Tinglin led MA with 14 kills, 10 digs and seven blocks. Lee set up Tinglin time and time again, racking up 50 assists to go with two aces.
Senior outside hitter Sarah Paige Massey had seven kills, two blocks and 10 digs, and senior middle hitter Lillian Roth had 14 blocks.
It was only fitting that senior Cady Upchurch had the final serve for MA. Last season, in the fifth game of the regional quarterfinals, her serve hit the net to give Providence match point.
“I couldn’t have gone out any better. It wasn’t like that last serve was the game point, but we won,” Upchurch said. “They’re a great team, but we learned our lesson from last year, and we knew we were going to finish it to the very last point.
“That’s the best way we could have finished that season. How can you get any better than that?”
Sinclair, who’s already a hall of fame coach, has now led Montgomery Academy to a fourth volleyball state title. She previously won titles in 1986, 2005 and 2006.
She said she saw similarities between this year’s team and the team from 2006 at the beginning of the season. Now, that’s truer than ever.
“We finished what we started,” Sinclair said. “We started out No. 1, and we finished No. 1. In our gym, we have a motivational wall, and we talk about positive things after practice, and at the beginning of practice, and that’s the nucleus of our team. That is why we are so successful. It’s not volleyball, it’s team bonding skills…It’s all the intangibles that we can control, and those girls believed it.”

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Montgomery Academy wins state volleyball championship
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