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Eastfield earns NJCAA championship, advances to nationals

The Harvester Bees rushed the court to celebrate their championship win over North Lake in the National Junior College Athletic Association South District Division III tournament Saturday. They finished with scores 25-22, 21-25, 25-14 and 25-15 to improve to 31-0 this season.

Head coach Phil Nickel said he felt “joy, excitement, and a little bit of relief” as the Blazers made a service error, winning Eastfield the game.

“We did it,” Nickel said. “We’ve been working so hard, and for it to finally be real, it’s mission accomplished.”

The first two sets were neck and neck as the teams traded points, with Eastfield steadily trailing. After taking a set each, things turned around in the third set when Eastfield found its footing.

“They came out and dictated the way the game was going,” Nickel said. “At the end of the second [set] and into the third we were able to regain control and play the way we wanted to play.”

Head coach Phil Nickel thanks his team for a successful performance earning a trip to nationals. (RORY MOORE )

Brenly Walker and Azoria Davis stepped up for Eastfield’s defense with 22 and 16 digs, respectively. Davis also led the way offensively, nailing 12 kills, with Tasmine Maxwell close behind at nine.

Libero Ava Cole said nationals has been the goal since the first day of practice, and now that it’s here, she’s more than ready for the challenge.

“This is something that I’ve always wanted,” Cole said. “I’ve always wanted to go nationals obviously, but winning it would just be a whole other level.”

The players earned a day of rest to celebrate before hitting it hard again at practice Monday.

“We’re gonna reset our focus a little bit, then get back to work,” Nickel said.

Eastfield will participate in the NJCAA national championship tournament Nov. 9-11 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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