Helena’s season ends against St. Paul’s in Super Regionals

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

MONTGOMERY – A season full of ups and downs officially ended on Wednesday, Oct. 21 for the Helena Huskies, but it didn’t end before they got one last chance to show the growth they’ve experienced this season.

Starting to find a rhythm at the right time, the Huskies finished second in the area tournament to Pelham to earn a postseason spot and then advanced to Super Regionals to take on No. 8 St. Paul’s after sweeping Eufala a few days earlier.

At times against the Saints on Wednesday, the Huskies struggled, but they also showed many aspects of their improvement throughout the season, including in a hard-fought first set.

Early in the opening set, Helena fell behind, but the Huskies never stopped battling. Down 15-10, they trailed by five points all the way up to 21-16.

But from there, they went on a 5-1 run to get within a point at 22-21, showing they had what it took to at least compete with St. Paul’s when playing their best.

The two teams traded points from there with the Saints gaining a 24-22 edge. Helena staved off one set point and looked to even the set at 24-24, but instead, the Saints just squeaked out the opening set with a 25-23 victory.

The tight battle continued early into the second set with the two teams tied at 4-4 and even when it was 6-5 St. Paul’s. But from there, the Saints went on a 6-0 run to bust open the set, and then tacked a 5-2 run on top of that to storm in front 17-8.

That became too much of a deficit to overcome as the Saints pulled away to eventually win the second set 25-14 for a 2-0 lead in the match.

Helena was now in a difficult situation of needing to win three consecutive sets in a row to keep its season alive and advance to the state tournament, while St. Paul’s was one set from moving on to the final 16 teams in the 6A classification.

And for the Huskies, the sledding was tough early in the third set with the pressure of the situation weighing heavily on them.

After taking a 1-0 lead, Helena gave up a 10-0 run to the Saints, who jumped out to a dominant 10-1 lead.

But that led to perhaps the most impressive moment of the afternoon for Helena. The Huskies, despite staring the end of their season in the eyes, didn’t quit.

Instead, they bounced back with a 12-4 run to pull within one point at 14-13. Yet again, the Huskies had shown they could compete with one of the best teams in the state and weren’t going to go down without giving it their all.

From there, St. Paul’s responded like one of the best teams with an 11-2 run to pick up a 25-15 victory in the set, but Helena had still shown positive signs for all of next year’s returning players.

While the Huskies ended up getting swept in the match, those impressive stretches were a culmination of what they were working on throughout the year, showing what is possible if the team continues to work on them heading into next year.