Macon East, Edgewood take AISA volleyball titles
By Tim Gayle
After losing a hard-fought championship match to Coosa Valley Academy last year, the Macon East Academy volleyball team came to Faulkner University to deliver a message to the rest of the Alabama Independent School Association.
“We said in the locker room that we came here to make a statement today and that’s that Macon East is back at full force and never went anywhere,” said Macon East coach Codi Moon, who served as one of two coaches on last year’s team. “We just made a couple of adjustments and we’re ready to go.”
The Knights won for the sixth time in seven consecutive trips to the AISA volleyball finals, sweeping Class AA action with an easy win over Lee-Scott Academy in the semifinals and an equally dominating performance against Glenwood School in the finals.
“Before the game, we were like, we have to play our game, not anyone else’s, just us,” said Macon East’s all-everything junior, Madisyn Kennedy, who was chosen as the tournament’s most valuable player.
“Just us” was a return to championship ways with a stifling performance to avenge one of the Knights’ three losses this season. Kennedy was away at a softball showcase when Macon East (33-3) opened the season with a loss to Glenwood, but she and her teammates were in top form on Thursday, falling behind just once (1-0 in game three) in the three matches before roaring back to dispose of the Gators 25-9.
Macon East had won the first two matches 25-16 and 25-12.
“We didn’t talk about it a whole lot but from the very first tournament when we all played together, even though we were missing a few players, from the very first time I saw this group play together I knew they were something special and they were something that would be hard to beat,” Moon said.
“They’ve been the most consistent team I’ve ever been a part of and the most fun team. I’ve never seen as much trust and as much growth in a group of girls as these girls have. We did not have any individuals this year, we had a team.”
With Kennedy and Emily Brooks returning this season as the only two varsity players with any experience, you might have thought Macon East was rebuilding. By the end of the year, Kennedy was over the 700-kill mark and BTW-Magnet transfer Ariel Brown had more than 400. Brooks and Madison McKee were over the 500-assist mark in their careers and Anne Turner Cobb was nearing 500.
“When you have six players that are as good as the six that I have, it’s easy for somebody to have an off day and still not skip a beat,” Moon said. “That’s what we worked on was covering each other and just outhustling everybody. That’s what we’ve done and that’s what has made us successful because we don’t have to change a lot.”
Kennedy was joined on the all-tournament team by Brown and Brooks, along with Kamron Bence and JJ Woods of Glenwood and Katherine Dudley of Lee-Scott.
“It was exciting,” Kennedy said. “This is my favorite team of all time. I love every single one of these girls and every single game. I was so excited to play with them because they bring a certain passion to the floor and it’s just so much fun to play with them.
“We just all mesh very well together. Honestly, we just all love each other.”
Edgewood (35-7) won for the 16th time in as many matches against A competition. Second-year coach Sellers Dubberley has never lost to a Class A opponent.
“After winning it last year, we had a target on our back this year,” Dubberley said. “We knew Autauga was going to give us everything they had. They’ve played us close all year. I really wouldn’t want to have it any other way. Playing a rival who gave us a good game, I’ll take it all day every day.”
Madison Maddox was chosen as the tournament’s most valuable player and was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Sara Grace Ellis and Peyton Rodie. Other members of the all-tournament team were Megan Spires and Faith Petrunic of Autauga, Megan Chapman of Southern and Bailey Allen of Chambers.