A pair of local prep squads continued their winning ways at the recent Alabama High School Athletic Association volleyball (AHSAA) championships in Birmingham. The girls from St. Paul’s Episcopal School and Bayside Academy once again added to their trophy cases.

In the Class 5A title match, the Lady Saints defeated Guntersville 3-1 to win their second straight title. Making the all-tournament team were Konner Wilkes, Ali Sutherland and Morgan Eiland, who was also the Most Valuable Player. The Mobile squad ended with a 37-13 record.

It was a fond farewell for head coach Kelli Hillier, who is stepping down after 14 seasons. While at the helm, Hillier led the Lady Saints to seven of the last nine AHSAA volleyball titles. She leaves St. Paul’s with 607 career wins.

St. Paul’s Episcopal volleyball coach Kelli Hillier is retiring after 14 seasons, 607 wins and consecutive state titles.

St. Paul’s Episcopal volleyball coach Kelli Hillier is retiring after 14 seasons, 607 wins and consecutive state titles.

In the Class 3A finals, the Lady Admirals were down a match point against Madison Academy. However, the club from Daphne rallied to secure a 3-2 victory. It marks an incredible 13 consecutive state titles for Bayside, including 20 in the last 27 seasons.

Lauren Chastang was named the MVP. On the all-tournament team with her were Ariel Dulaney, Brantley Rhodes and Ansleigh Dailey. Head coach Ann Schilling’s team, which finished with a 44-9 record, will return every player next season.

McGill-Toolen, the long-time volleyball power from Mobile, came up just short. The Lady Jackets lost in the Class 7A semifinals, ending the year with a 43-9 record.

College stars pick up honors

The University of South Alabama women’s soccer team received special recognition at the Sun Belt Conference’s annual awards banquet. After winning the regular season trophy with an undefeated mark and then adding the conference tournament title last weekend, the Lady Jags became the first school in league history to sweep the major individual honors.

Freshman Chardé Hannah received the conference’s offensive player and freshman of the year awards. Junior Nini Rabsatt-Smith earned the defensive player of the year honor, while Graham Winkworth was voted the coach of the year.

Hannah, Rabsatt-Smith, Rio Hardy, Sophie Haywood and Steffi Hardy earned spots on the SBC first-team squad. On the second-team unit were Monique Autmon and Danielle Henley.

• The men’s and women’s soccer teams from the University of Mobile picked up first-round victories at home last Saturday in the Southern States Athletic Conference tournament. The Lady Rams beat Belhaven 5-0 while the male counterparts knocked off Brewton-Parker 3-0.

Both local squads, who won their regular season titles, continue SSAC tourney play in Montgomery this Thursday and Sunday. Opponents and schedules were not available at press time. The Lady Rams are 14-2-2 and are on a 12-game unbeaten streak, while the men improved to 13-3-2.

• The University of Mobile’s Sara Van Wert has been named to the 2014 Capital One Academic All-District 1 volleyball team. She now qualifies for the College Sports Information Directors of America’s national ballot.

The senior middle blocker is the lone Southern States Athletic Conference representative. She is majoring in biology with a pre-med concentration. For her career, she has 1,010 kills and 332 blocks.

• The same group has picked USA tight end Rush Hendricks and defensive lineman Jesse Kelley to the Academic All-District 4 football team. The seniors also will appear on the national ballot.

Hendricks, who was on the all-district team last year, is already enrolled in graduate school after earning his bachelor degree in exercise science with a 4.0 GPA. Kelley, among the team leaders with 29 total tackles, is a meteorology major.

MSA secures more action

The Mobile Sports Authority continues to join with other local groups to bring athletic events to the area.

The MSA is working with the AHSAA, the City of Mobile Swim Association and Bishop State Community College to host the 2014 South Sectional Championship Swim Meet. This first-time event will be Nov. 21-22 at the BSCC’s aquatic facility in downtown Mobile.

The competition, for boys and girls, is projected to bring up to 800 athletes to Mobile, along with their coaches and supporters. The preliminary swimming begins that Friday at 5 p.m., with the finals set for the next day at 2 p.m. The diving competition will be Saturday at 10 a.m. For more information, visit www.ahsaa.com.

Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau and the MSA have announced the Fishers of Men Southeast Region District 1 bass tourney will take place next year. The championship will be on the Mobile-Tensaw Delta Nov. 16-20, 2015, at the Mobile County River Delta Marina in Creola.

The Fishers of Men group also hosted its 2012 regional in Mobile. The group sponsors 300 annual tournaments in 21 states. MSA expects 150-200 anglers to participate. For more information, visit www.fomntt.com.

Holidays at the Hank

Baseball may still be months away, but the Mobile BayBears organization will remain busy as they present a Christmas Night of Lights at Hank Aaron Stadium. The minor league ballpark will feature hundreds of thousands of LED lights that are synchronized to Christmas songs playing through the car radio.

The drive-though light show starts this Friday and runs through Jan. 3. The show begins at dusk, and continues to 10 p.m. on weekdays, with extended hours on weekends. Admission is $6 per person, with those 3 and under admitted for free.

“We are thrilled to serve as the host of the first-ever Christmas Nights of Lights in this area,” said Chris Morgan, the BayBears’ general manager. “This certainly fits into our model of providing affordable, family-friendly entertainment.”

The 1.5-mile experience ends at Santa’s Village, where photos can be taken with the jolly old elf. Games, foods, rides and other attractions are planned. For more details, visit www.ChristmasNightsOfLights.com.