The merry-go-round of defensive efforts for the Oxford Lady Chargers turned to two more unlikely sources.
Ainsley Tacke notched her first career double-double and Claire Wicker stepped up while in the back row to hold the Madison Central Lady Jags’ attack at bay as Oxford recorded yet another 3-0 (25-23, 25-15, 25-17) home sweep Tuesday night for North Half in the MHSAA Class 6A Playoffs inside the OHS Gym.
Wicker had a team-high 11 digs and Tacke had a career-high 10 digs to go along with her season-high 17 kills for the double-double. Wicker had a few key digs during the first set that allowed Oxford (29-2 overall) to come back from a six-point first set deficit and outscore Madison Central 14-6 after being down 17-11 to take the first set 25-23.
“We knew we had to get this first set under our belts,” Oxford coach Ashley Martin said. “Ainsley served all those points in a row, her leadership was awesome. Everyone bought in, you can see it on the court. There was one point I vividly remember, Claire Wicker got a dig and everyone turned around and was like ‘yes!’ That definitely was a momentum changer in that first set.”
Oxford carried that momentum into the second set where the Lady Chargers steamrolled Madison Central (20-9) to a 22-8 lead. The Lady Jaguars managed to get on a good service run to close the gap, but it was too little too late to avoid a 2-0 hole on the road dropping the second set 25-15.
The Lady Chargers tussled with the Lady Jaguars early in the third set until midway through where Oxford got a six-point cushion at 15-9, not allowing another run from Madison Central for the remainder of the set to finish off the match.
Oxford advances to the 6A championship match at Ridgeland High School and will face Brandon who defeated a 42-win Ocean Springs team in four sets. The match is set for 6:00 p.m. Saturday.
“No matter what, we’re going to have to fight to get that win,” Martin said. “I know my girls are up for it. I know they’re going to fight and never give up. If that first set told us anything, they’re going to continue to fight.”
Madi Jones also had 10 digs to help the defensive effort for the Lady Chargers, giving her a seventh double-digit total in the last 10 matches. Bree Lyons had another all-round game with six kills and eight digs.
Allie Hazelwood led Madison Central with a nearly identical double-double of her own with 16 kills and 10 digs. Lauren Quick complemented her on offense with six kills. Hannah Kate Wilson lead all players defensively with a match-high 15 digs.