Chelsea beats Helena in top-10 battle for spot in Super Regionals

By SETH HAGAN | For the Reporter

PELHAM – The second semifinal match of the Class 6A Area 8 volleyball tournament proved the most competitive by far as No. 6 Chelsea took the floor to face No. 7 Helena.

Separated by mere votes, just a few points separated the Hornets and the Huskies in a matchup to not only send one the teams to the championship match to face the defending state champion Pelham Panthers, but also the Super Regionals, while the loser’s season was done.

Both teams went into extra points on the opening two sets with Chelsea and Helena taking one each by the score of 26-24. Chelsea mounted a huge comeback to take the third set 25-20 and pulled away with the win in the fourth set by a final score of 25-14 to complete the 3-1 victory and advance. 

Neither team led by more than three points in the opening set as the teams traded the opening 27 points with the Huskies holding a small 14-13 lead. The back and forth continued to a 20-20 and 24-24 tie, but Helena never relinquished the lead and pulled out the win to take the first set and the early advantage.

The second set followed a similar track with Chelsea taking the lead for the majority of the time but, again, neither team was able to take more than a four-point lead. That moment nearly doomed the Hornets as they found themselves down 24-20 and in danger of going down 0-2 after the Huskies went on a 5-1 run late to take control.

However, the Hornets dug deep and answered with a 6-0 run to close out the second set for their first win, which really swung the momentu for the time being.

Zoe LaBreche was particularly dominant during the stretch nailing down three kills, including the set winner. LaBreche would go on to lead Chelsea with eight kills.

Helena had the Hornets on the ropes again in the third set taking a 12-6 lead, but Chelsea had one more monster run in them and flipped the script on the Huskies with a 14-3 hot streak that gave them a 20-15 lead.

A crucial interference penalty and unforced error on set point doomed Helena as Chelsea found the points to take a 2-1 match lead.

“As far as tonight goes I don’t feel like we were able to capitalize in some big moments that were given to us to be successful,” said Helena head coach Amanda Lewis. “And in general blocking and playing defense, but Chelsea did a good job of finding our weaknesses and utilizing those and we couldn’t react in a timely manner.”

Lewis’ group took on one of the most challenging schedules in the state, but couldn’t have been more proud of her upperclassmen.

“I could not ask for a better group of seniors, there’s nine of them,” Lewis said, pausing to reflect. “I feel like coming into this season they felt a little bit of pressure to perform, but going through the season they were able to relax just play and that’s why I think we were successful in some big games.”

The Hornets made short work of the Huskies in the fourth set and dominated down the stretch for a 25-14 win that sent them into the Area 8 championship later that night with Pelham and also clinched a spot in the Super Regionals to keep their season alive.