Madison Sides Records 1,000th Kill vs. Gadsden City by Shannon Fagan, Sports Editor
Tuesday, September 29, 2015 12:13 pm
SPRING GARDEN – It’s been a long, hard road for Spring Garden senior volleyball outside hitter Madison Sides to travel. Knee injuries have kept her away from the court during parts of the past two seasons, but even with those, she’s battled back to make an impact with the Lady Panthers.
On Monday afternoon in a home tri-match with Gadsden City and Donoho, Sides’ effort was rewarded.
She posted her 1,000th career kill late in the first game against Gadsden City. When she hit the milestone kill, her teammates on the bench held up signs signifying the occasion.
“We were on the court and (teammate) Alex (Robertson) said ‘Madison, look at the bench.’ I said ‘Why?’ She said, ‘Just look at the bench,’” Sides said. “I turned around and I didn’t know what to say. I was in shock. I had no idea (being close to 1,000 kills). It’s amazing to have the team that I do. For them to help me get to this just makes it even better.”
Spring Garden coach Ben Carroll said, ‘it’s something she’s worked really hard for.’
“She goes above and beyond what any coach could ever ask of her,” Carroll said. “She comes up here with her dad (Mackie Sides) every night after matches and on the weekends. She’s a very hard worker. She’s the testament to ‘I go above and beyond what I’m asked to do.’ She showed out tonight.”
As Carroll said, Sides did show out in both matches.
She finished with eight kills, five digs and three aces in leading the Lady Panthers to a 25-9, 25-12 win in the Gadsden City match.
Then, Sides topped that performance with 14 kills, five digs and three aces in leading the Lady Panthers past Donoho 25-21 and 25-18 to capture their eighth-straight victory. Monday’s matches were the first since the Lady Panthers (23-13) won the Cherokee County Tournament on Saturday.
“I think winning county was a stepping stone for us,” Sides said. “I just hope we keep our intensity up. Our intensity is great right now.
“All day we were saying ‘Man, how nice would it be to beat Donoho at our gym?’ They beat us pretty bad there, but we got a feel for them. Coming into today, we knew we could do this. We’ve picked our game up tremendously. Coming off the county tournament on Saturday, we got so much better just in those three matches. That made a world of difference.”
Carroll said he was a bit anxious to see how the Lady Panthers would respond after such an emotional high from Saturday. He was thoroughly impressed.
“I didn’t see them any (on Monday) during athletics,” he said. “The first time I saw them was 3 o’clock. It was kind of what I wanted. I didn’t want them in here to practice. I just kind of wanted them to enjoy it as long as they could.
“We started the Gadsden City match and I said ‘Guys, we’ve won a county championship. We’ve enjoyed it for a couple of days. Now it’s behind us. Phase two starts now.’ They responded very well coming off that high.”
Spring Garden jumped out to a 19-3 lead in game one against Gadsden City off Sides’ milestone kill. Game two was much the same, as the Lady Panthers went on a 20-7 run en route to the win.
Rachel Scott contributed four kills, four digs and four aces for Spring Garden in the Gadsden City match. Hayley Williams had four kills. Rachel Morris managed three kills and two aces. Robertson tallied three kills and a block. Abbie Porter posted five digs and two assists. AJ Broome finished with 20 assists
In the nightcap against Donoho, Spring Garden avenged an earlier loss this season to the Lady Falcons. The biggest difference this time was Sides, who was still on the mend during their Sept. 8 meeting.
“They beat us pretty badly at their place, and I don’t know if they were expecting that (on Monday),” Carroll said. “We jumped on them very early. We got them a little out of their rhythm. They responded, but the thing I was so proud of was when they responded, we responded too. At any time, they can come back, but I told them we cannot let up, and they did not. I’m very proud of them.”
As Carroll said, Spring Garden jumped out to an early 4-1 advantage in the first game held a 20-14 lead down the stretch.
But the Lady Falcons reeled off six straight points to tie the game at 20, forcing Carroll to call a timeout.
Following the break, Spring Garden outscored Donoho 5-1, with the last point earned on a kill by Sides.
Game two had a similar result. The Lady Panthers held a 15-8 lead midway through the game before Donoho closed the gap to 18-15.
Once again, Carroll called a timeout, and the Lady Panthers responded when action resumed.
“When we have challenges thrown at us, we just bounce back,” Sides said. “We got put in that situation again. They were going on a run. He called timeout and was like ‘Ya’ll respond well in these situations. Don’t let me down now.’ We were bound and determined not to lay down. We were going to fight.”
And fight they did. Spring Garden closed out the game and the match on a 7-3 run.
Morris came away with nine kills and two aces in the Donoho match. Porter posted 14 digs. Williams contributed nine digs and three kills. Scott tallied six digs and Broome finished with 24 assists.
“We’ve been working so hard lately,” Sides said. “The biggest thing for us right now is to stay humble. We can’t get overwhelmed with everything. We’ve just got to keeping working hard to improve every day.”
“We are playing very well right now. I just hope we’re not peaking too early,” Carroll said. “I think they’re so hungry to do something that a team here has not done in a long time – not just make it back to the state tournament, but win a state championship. That’s something embedded in their minds that they want to do. It’s only happened once and it’s been eight years. With six seniors, they’ve got that hunger and that desire to go out a champion.”
Spring Garden senior outside hitter Madison Sides posts her 1,000th career kill against Gadsden City on Monday. Photo by Shannon Fagan