Thompson Sweeps Fairhope, Advances to Second Straight Final Four
Judy Green and her Warriors are moving on to the Final Four for the second consecutive year after an impressive sweep of the Fairhope Pirates in the state quarterfinals Wednesday, October 27. Fairhope fought hard, especially in the third set, but Thompson played as well from behind as they did with the lead to take the match 25-9, 25-16, 28-26.
The Warriors came into the day as the no. 2 seed out of the North Super Regional and played a nearly perfect first set. Aces from Madison Touhey and Hannah Fincher helped Thompson to jump out to an 11-4 lead while the Pirates had no answer for Kaitlyn Grant early on. The high-flying junior smashed four kills in the opening period and the Warriors went on a 9-3 run to end a dominant set, 25-9.
Fairhope adjusted and played well for the remainder of the match, specifically at the net. The Pirates came out playing great defense and executing on offense to play within 14-13 midway through the second set.
But then Bri Wilson found her rhythm and helped her team finish out the set. Wilson sent two aces to the court along with two more kills to pace Thompson while Caroline Canaday had some spectacular touch and four kills of her own in the period. Canaday had three of those in a row to spark another 9-3 run the Warriors would ride to another set victory, 25-16.
On the brink of elimination, the Pirates played their best set yet. Using five kills and two aces early on, they built a 9-3 lead, but despite the deficit Thompson never felt out of this one.
Canaday was big again with two aces and two kills initially to tie the match 10-10. Neither team led by more than two points for the remainder of the match. The Pirates did so three times, but time and again Thompson gutted out tough points to stay within striking distance.
Fairhope, down 23-22, scored consecutive points out of their timeout to put the pressure on the Warriors. Canaday responded with a kill and Kaitlyn Grant scored on a block two points later after Thompson gave the ball back on a rare service error. Grant scored four points in the set.
The Pirates forced a set point three times late in the match, but Thompson answered every time with the final one leaving both teams’ fans stunned.
An awkward set lofted in Canaday’s direction taking her out of bounds, but the senior made yet another incredible touch, popping the ball high into the air and just inside the inbounds marker on the net. Every Fairhope player thought the ball was out of bounds and didn’t make a play for the ball which fell harmlessly to the court with the referee pointing to Thompson for the point and a 26-26 tie.
From there, Bri Wilson finished the match off with two consecutive kills to give herself four for the set and six for the match as she added 14 digs and two aces.
Caroline Canaday was the most effective overall with nine kills, 15 digs and three aces to lead the team in both latter categories while Kaitlyn Grant topped Warriors with 10 kills and three blocks. Baylee Southern had a great all-around game as well with 14 digs, a team-high 11 assists, five kills, two blocks and an ace. Madison Touhey also added three aces.
The win places Thompson in the state semifinals where they will square off with McGill-Toolen for a shot at the Class 7A state title at 3 p.m.