Tanya Lybarger didn’t know what to expect.
Several key starters were gone. Two of those had opportunities to play in college.
So, the lineup Hartselle High’s volleyball team put on the floor when the season began in August was surrounded with question marks.
Uncertainty isn’t an issue anymore. New players. Same results.
Class 5A No. 2 Hartselle hasn’t missed a beat. The Lady Tigers appear poised for another deep postseason run.
But first things first. Before the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s volleyball postseason begins next week, Hartselle has some business that can’t be left unattended:
The Lady Tigers have a Morgan County title to defend.
The Morgan County volleyball tournament begins today at Falkville. Pool play is scheduled for 1 p.m., with the single-elimination tournament starting at 4 p.m. The championship match is scheduled for 6 p.m.
“I think this tournament helps us,” Lybarger said. “There’s so much good competition in this county. We’re lucky to have a county tournament like this, one that helps you get ready for the postseason.”
Lybarger is correct about the competition. Winning the Morgan County title isn’t easy.
All nine schools in Morgan County participate — including Decatur, Austin and Decatur Heritage. Four of those were ranked on the last Alabama Sports Writers Association poll, and a fifth — Priceville — could boast a strong argument about why it should be included.
Hartselle (No. 2 in 5A), Brewer (No. 8 in 5A), Danville (No. 6 in 3A) and West Morgan (No. 7 in 3A) were all ranked on the last poll.
“I have coaching friends who say their (county tournaments) aren’t competitive and the same teams win every year,” Danville coach Spencer Cole said. “Ours is nothing like that. It’s extremely competitive. The volleyball in our county is very good, and that makes this tournament more meaningful.”
Morgan County teams have been a regular at the state tournament in recent years. Cole said that having so many quality opponents located in a close proximity is a major reason why.
“Playing good competition every day makes you better,” he said. “We always want to play the best competition available. We’re lucky that we don’t have to go far to do that. There are no easy wins in this county. That makes everyone better.”
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