Calhoun County Class 1A-2A Volleyball Coach of the Year: Slay defies odds, brings Donoho back to title match
by Brandon Miller
Dec 17, 2013 | 1754 views |  0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Donoho head coach Janice Slay talks with her team during a timeout against Athens Bible. (Photo by Trent Penny)
Donoho head coach Janice Slay talks with her team during a timeout against Athens Bible. (Photo by Trent Penny)
ANNISTON — It’s not often a back-to-back state champion has to defy odds to make its third trip back to the championship, but that was the story for Donoho.

The Falcons returned only three starters from last year and looked to seniors Corey Phillis and Riley Segrest to lead the team back to the Class 1A state title match. The two seniors led Donoho well.

“I knew that we had a good base of talent and I knew our core strength was going to be Corey and Riley,” Donoho coach Janice Slay, The Anniston Star’s Class 1A-2A All-County Coach of the Year, said. “Although I knew our surrounding core had a good base to them, we had not put those kids together on the court ever. Other than Jordan (Ray), none of them had any court experience.”

The turning point in the season came in the South Super Regional in Montgomery. Donoho went into the tournament with a top seed and was looking to not only qualify for the state tournament but also gain a high seed for it.

“Knowing that St. Luke’s is a rising program, we knew they were going to be a challenge,” Slay said. “My focus was to get us to and through the regional tournament and then we’d see how things fell at the state tournament.”

Donoho defeated St. Luke’s in the championship and went on to face Addison for the third consecutive season for the Class 1A state title. Although the Falcons fell in four sets, Donoho still won its third trophy in as many years.

“It was a season that I really enjoyed and will remember forever,” Phillis said. “This season was completely different than previous seasons because we really had to work hard to make it back to the championship.”

Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star
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