Lady Tigers host sub-state match for trip to Elite Eight
Never mind Hartselle’s slow start in the Class 5A Region D volleyball tournament Saturday.
The Lady Tigers might not know how to start strong, but they are more than comfortable finishing strong.
Hartselle swept three matches – including a rematch with rival Muscle Shoals in the region championship.
Hartselle beat Muscle Shoals 25-14, 25-20, 25-14 to earn the top seed in sub-state play. The Lady Tigers will face Moody Thursday afternoon at home with a berth in the Elite Eight tournament on the line.
“I thought we got off to a slow start against Lawrence County and East Limestone but the players came out focused in the championship because they knew that Muscle Shoals had beaten us twice this year,” said Hartselle head coach Tanya Lybarger. “We knew we had to play our best match.”
Olivia Golden had 56 kills, 44 digs, three aces and a pair of blocks for the Lady Tigers in the three matches. Katie Clark added 33 kills, 18 blocks and two digs.
“All of our hitters are hitting well,” Lybarger said. “It’s nice when you have all of them stepping up and hitting well. It makes it harder for teams to set up blocks.”
Chelsea Bennich had a team-high 61 digs for Hartselle. Katelyn Hill added 22 kills, 16 blocks and 10 digs, while Savanne Howard finished with 65 assists, five kills, six aces and 11 digs.
Elizabeth Russell finished with 59 assists. Kaylee Shelton and Haley Jared had 17 and 12 kills respectively, while Taylor Lybarger added 10 kills. Kelsey Bonner had 45 digs.
Hartselle lost its first game of the match before rallying to beat Lawrence County 24-26, 25-19, 25-11, 25-7.
In the semifinals, the Lady Tigers handled East Limestone with ease to claim a 25-20, 25-19, 25-23 victory to set up the rematch with Muscle Shoals.
Hartselle and Muscle Shoals came into the region tournament after splitting their four meetings during the regular season. With the win Saturday, Hartselle won all three matches played on the Lady Tigers’ home court.
Hartselle may be playing its best volleyball at the right time. After starting the season with a 10-10 mark, the Lady Tigers have won 37 of their last 49 matches.
“We played a tough schedule early in the season with the Grissoms and the Huntsvilles,” Lybarger said. “Hopefully, that has made us a better them. There has been a lot of bumps, but I’m really proud of our players.”
Winners of sub-state matches Thursday will advance to the Elite Eight tournament at the Pelham Civic Center.