HUNTSVILLE — The starting lineup is mostly new.
But the results? They were the same.
Another Hartselle High win to secure a state volleyball tournament berth.
Hartselle did it this season by beating Curry 3-1 Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s inaugural North Super Regional at the Von Braun Center. The Lady Tigers followed with two more wins, against Boaz and Lawrence County, to win the tournament title.
For Hartselle’s volleyball program, securing state tournament berths has become the expectation. The Lady Tigers will be making their seventh straight appearance in the AHSAA Elite Eight, which begins Wednesday in Birmingham.
A few hours later, on the same courts, the post-match reactions were a little more fresh — and lively. Lawrence County swept East Limestone 3-0 to earn its first state tournament berth since 2009, and Brewer overcame a two-set deficit to beat John Carroll 3-2 to earn its third ever Elite Eight appearance.
That means almost half of the state tournament’s Class 5A bracket is filled with area teams.
“I’m not surprised at all that we’ve made it this far,” Lawrence County middle-hitter Adrien Coffey said. “The way we’re playing right now, I feel like we can compete with anybody.”
Coffey’s confidence is warranted — and it’s shared by many.
The players who fill Hartselle, Lawrence County and Brewer’s rosters all feel like they have teams that can contend in the state tournament.
For good reason, too. All three teams are rich with talent, and they proved it on the court in Huntsville.
Hartselle was the most dominant of the three, losing just one set — against Curry — in four tournament matches.
“This is pretty much an entirely different group than we had last year,” Hartselle coach Tanya Lybarger said. “Right now, we’re playing pretty good volleyball — a lot better than we were a few weeks ago. I know one thing: getting to the state tournament never gets old.”
Hartselle’s blueprint for success hasn’t changed. Playing sound defense and limiting unforced errors wins high-stake matches.
The Lady Tigers used that formula to win the North Super Regional title.
Hartselle’s front line was strong. Taylor Dellinger led the Lady Tigers with 14 kills, while Taylor Lybarger added 11 kills and 16 digs. Haley Jared recorded 11 kills and 11 digs.
Melissa Paul Hill led Hartselle with 39 assists.
Kheala Roberts led Lawrence County in the loss with 10 kills, while Coffey added seven kills and four blocks. Ashton Malcolm and Rachel Childress combined for 23 assists.
Despite losing in the title match, Lawrence County coach Robyn Hutto feels good about her team heading into the state tournament.
“It’s a good group,” she said. “We’ve had a few stumbles, but we’re playing well right now and our players are excited about the opportunity.”
Brewer claims No. 3 seed: Earning a second straight trip to the Elite Eight wasn’t easy for Brewer. Down 2-0 to John Carroll in an elimination match, the Lady Patriots were on the verge of having their season come to an end.
But close doesn’t count.
With the season on the line, Brewer’s talented front line took over the match. Riley Northway pounded out 25 kills and Savanna Flack added 15.
Flack was clutch in key moments. In the final three sets, she scored the decisive points with kills.
“That was a great comeback,” Brewer coach Ron Smith said. “They raised the energy when we needed it. Savanna played great down the stretch. She had some clutch moments.”
Cheyenne McLemore finished with 23 digs, three aces and five kills for Brewer in the match.
Behind a strong performance from Coffey, Lawrence County swept Brewer 3-0 in the semifinals to hand Brewer its only loss in the tournament.
As the regional runner-up, Lawrence County heads into the state tournament as a No. 2 seed, while Brewer, which beat Boaz 3-0 in the consolation bracket final, is a No. 3 seed.
Danvile advances: Danville beat eighth-ranked Winston County 3-1 in the Class 3A consolation final to earn a No. 3 seed in this week’s state tournament.
Sydni Shelton led Danville with 26 kills against Winston County. Kellee Stiles added 11 and Megan Luker had 10. Charlee Anderson finished with 43 assists.
Hatton advances: Hatton rallied for five consecutive points to win its first set against Ohatchee, and then dominated the rest of the way, winning its quarterfinal matchup 3-0 to secure a spot in the Class 2A state tournament.
Hatton beat West End 3-2 in the semifinals before losing to Lexington 3-1 in the championship match to take the No. 2 seed.
Athens Bible advances: Athens Bible advanced in the Class 1A tournament as a No. 3 seed.
Austin eliminated: The Lady Bears’ season ended with a 3-0 loss to Bob Jones.
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