Photo | Courtesy of Bayside Academy and Bayshore Christian
The girls’ volleyball teams from Bayside Academy and Bayshore Christian.
Two schools are located less than four miles apart. One is regarded among the greatest dynasties in prep sports history. The other did not become eligible for the state playoffs until this season.
Regardless of the differences, both Bayside Academy of Daphne and Bayshore Christian School (BCS) of Fairhope brought home state volleyball titles to Baldwin County.
According to the school’s website, Eastern Shore Presbyterian Church founded the BCS ministry in 2002. Fourteen years later, it became fully accredited through the Association of Classical Christian Schools when the first senior class graduated. In 2018, BCS purchased 46 acres of land to build an upper school campus.
In their first year to qualify for the postseason, the Eagles came into the Class 1A quarterfinals with an 18-10 record. Despite the modest numbers, they dominated in Birmingham. They opened with 3-0 victories over Covenant Christian and Lindsay Lane Christian Academy.
In the championship final against North State top-seed The Donoho School of Anniston, BCS senior Cassidy Granger turned in the performance of her prep career. She totaled 35 kills to lead the Eagles to a 25-20, 25-22, 23-25, 25-15 win at the 50th Alabama High School Athletics Association (AHSAA) state volleyball tournament at Bill Harris Arena.
“Our girls worked hard and made a decision near the end of the season to keep pressing on toward the championship and not coast through the final weeks,” BCS head coach Dave Omtvedt said in a news release. “Their hard work paid off.”
Making the victory even more impressive was that they defeated Donoho. The Falcons were the 2019 state champions, and have won a dozen titles across five different decades.
The Eagles recorded 52 kills in the win, with Ashlyn Whiteside accounting for 14. Granger, who finished her career with more than 1,000 kills, was named the tournament’s MVP. Joining her on the all-tournament team were Whiteside and Brooke Kennedy.
Granger also made first-team all-state for 1A-2A classification. Avery Bramblett made second-team and Whiteside was honorable mention all-state.
“Our student-athletes, coaching staff, athletic director and administrators have led this team with dedication, grace, dignity, perseverance and joy both on and off the court,” said Dr. Tim Dernlan, head of school at Bayshore. “We are so proud of our volleyball team and grateful for the talents and work ethic that God has instilled in these girls and for the many people that played a part in the success of this team.”
It appears Bayshore may be the first school in AHSAA history to win a state title in its first year of eligibility.
“This didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t just handed to these young ladies,” BCS Athletic Director Jeff Hauge said. “These girls are standing on the shoulders of giants that have built this program from nothing.”
BAYSIDE KEEPS ROLLING
While winning state titles has become almost expected at Bayside, this year’s win was extra special. Bayside Academy (52-4) defeated West Point 25-17, 25-7, 25-10 for its 19th straight volleyball championship.
“We set two national records this year,” Bayside head coach Ann Schilling told Lagniappe. “That is 29 state championships for the school and 19 consecutive.”
The national record for continuous state volleyball crowns had belonged to Bishop England High School of Charleston, S.C., which also held the National Federation of State High School Associations’ (NFHS) national record for most state titles overall with 28.
Bayside’s championship was the Lady Admirals’ first in Class 5A. The Admirals’ first state title was won in Class 1A. The current streak began in 2002 with a Class 2A state crown. Since then, Schilling has guided Bayside to titles in 3A, 4A and now, 5A.
If going by school attendance alone, Bayside would compete in Class 2A. Starting in 2017, AHSAA introduced the “competitive balance rule” that directs successful private schools to play some sports against teams in higher classifications.
“We took moving up as a challenge,” said Schilling, NFHS’s Coach of the Year in 2017. “We have now won in five divisions.”
To put that into perspective, tournament MVP Brelynn Dailey had not even been born when the current streak started. The 17-year-old setter had 37 assists in the 5A finals. Ella Broadhead also had 11 kills, Luci Wilkinson had 12 digs, and Emily Buhl had nine kills and 10 digs.
Joining Dailey on the all-tournament team were Buhl, Broadhead and Caroline Chastang. Dailey, Buhl, Ava Best, Ann Sterling Beall and Colton Thompson are seniors. Looking to extend the streak in 2021 will be Broadhead, Chastang, Wilkinson, Lillie McInnis, Lily Fraille, Lucy Fraille, Blakely Robbins, Maysie Douglas and Mia Bindon.
“I am extremely proud of this team,” said Schilling, a member of both the Mobile and Alabama High School sports halls of fame.
“They made some huge sacrifices and worked extremely hard.
“They represented all the Bayside volleyball teams before them. If it weren’t for those former players, breaking these records wouldn’t be possible.”
Several other teams from the Alabama Gulf Coast advanced to
the final four:
Class 2A – Orange Beach (13-18) lost in the quarterfinals to Altamont 25-22, 25-22, 25-10;
Class 4A – St. Michael Catholic (18-19) lost in the quarterfinals to Madison County 23-25, 25-15, 19-25, 25-20, 15-6;
Class 5A – Satsuma (17-18) lost in the quarterfinals to Alexandria 11-25, 21-25, 25-10, 25-15, 17-15;
Class 6A – Defending state champion Spanish Fort (42-12) beat Buckhorn in the quarterfinals 25-16, 15-25, 25-21, 20-25, 16-14; the Toros lost in the semifinals to Hartselle 25-23, 17-25, 25-23, 21-25, 15-9;
Class 6A – St. Paul’s Episcopal lost in the quarterfinal to Hartselle 25-23, 25-21-25-20;
Class 7A – McGill-Toolen Catholic (41-9) beat Vestavia Hills in the quarterfinals 25-21, 25-19, 25-16; the Jackets fell in the semifinals to Spain Park 23-25, 25-19, 25-23, 26-24;
Class 7A – Baker (21-16) lost in the quarterfinals to eventual state champion Hoover 25-14, 25-16, 25-11.
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