CHATSWORTH - The Sonoraville Lady Phoenix had high expectations for the season this fall that include a deep run into the Class AAA State Tournament.
But before they could go for that lofty goal, they had to take care of business in their area. They did that during the regular season with an undefeated record in 5-AAA, and they finished off the dominance of their area foes by completing a spotless run through the Area 5-AAA Tournament on Saturday at North Murray for their second straight area title.
“This has been a great season for us so far,” said Sonoraville coach Trace Vaughn. “We set a new record today with our win in the finals for most wins in a season with 39, and for that to come along with another area title, it just caps it off. The girls have been fantastic all year, and they continued that today.”
The outstanding day for Sonoraville (39-8) culminated with a win over Cartersville in the championship match which they won in three sets, 25-12, 25-11, 25-16. (The final match was best three out of five sets.) It was the second win over the Lady Hurricanes (the No. 8 seed) at the area tournament as the Lady Phoenix defeated them on Thursday night in the opening round.
Saturday’s action started with a two-set win for Sonoraville over Coahulla Creek (25-12, 25-17) in the second round. Then, the Lady Phoenix got a bit of a wake-up call in their next match against LFO, dropping the first set (25-23) to a pumped up Lady Warriors team, before coming back to win the next two sets (25-13, 25-10).
“It’s been a struggle this year fighting complacency a little in the area matches,” said Vaughn. “We needed a wake-up call. But our girls are just tough, physically and mentally. They came back and finished the tournament off strong. This is just an incredible group.”
The Lady Phoenix were led by their two seniors on Saturday, Carrie Cheeks and Kristi Vaughn. In the three matches combined, Cheeks had 36 kills, 13 digs, three blocks and seven aces on 41-of-43 serving. Vaughn added an incredible 90 assists to go along with seven blocks, three kills, eight digs and 10 aces on 35-of-37 serving.
“This means that our hard work has paid off,” said Kristi Vaughn of the area title. “I’ve been working toward this for four years, and this team has been working hard for a long time. But this isn’t our only goal so we can stop here. This is just an accomplishment along the way.”
Also playing big roles in Saturday’s wins were Haley Ponder with 25 kills, six digs and five aces, Emalie Hicks with 15 kills, four blocks, four assists and nine digs, Savannah Wilbanks with seven kills, eight digs and four aces, Becca Cheeks with seven kills and two blocks and Delaney Bell with 10 digs and three aces on 23-of-25 serving.
Trace Vaughn said winning the area title is a very important part of what the Lady Phoenix want to accomplish this season.
“Securing the No. 1 seed from our area for the state tournament is the first step,” said Vaughn. “We’ve gotten past this, now we’ll go forward and hopefully get a decent draw. If we advance a couple rounds and get to those final six teams, you never know what can happen.”
Kristi Vaughn said she has faith in her team that they can do special things in the upcoming weeks.
“Our focus is right, and we’re together as a team,” said Vaughn. “If we stay like that and continue to play hard, we can definitely make it to our goal of playing for a state championship.”
Sonoraville will host North Hall in the first round of the state tournament on Wednesday. The Lady Phoenix are trying to advance to the Class AAA Super Six for the second straight season.