Hartselle beaten in Elite Eight opener
By By Todd Thompson, Hartselle Enquirer
PELHAM - An area of strength for Hartselle proved to be a source of trouble for the Lady Tigers at the Elite Eight state volleyball tournament Wednesday at the Pelham Civic Center.
Hartselle, making its third straight appearance in the state tournament, was knocked out of the event with a 25-18, 25-19, 25-16 loss to No. 2 ranked Briarwood Christian.
Hartselle jumped out to a big lead in the opening game of the match only to see the Lady Lions rally to take the early lead in the match. Briarwood Christian swept the second and third games to claim the win over the fourth-ranked Lady Tigers.
Hartselle's lineup featured just three seniors - Mallory Jones, Meeda Stephenson and Cerra Little - and Lybarger was forced to use several younger players in key spots on the floor. “We moved one of our freshman players all around the court in several different positions and we called one player up from the junior varsity to play in the tournament,” she said. “Our experience level was a big factor in the match.”
Cory Livingston, who has been playing for several weeks with a knee injury, led the Lady Tigers with a team-high 10 kills. She also had seven digs and an assist.
Alex Holmes added five kills, three assists, an ace and four digs. Olivia Golden had four kills, one block and five digs. Callie Miller and Chelsea Bennich both had 11 digs.
Little finished with 16 assists and Mallory Jones and Savannah Lacey added three blocks each.
The quarterfinal loss marked the second time in the last two years that Hartselle was knocked from the tournament in the first round. Briarwood Christian won its first two matches in the tournament before losing to St. Paul’s in the championship.
Briarwood Christian’s Amy Hale had 16 kills and five digs for the Lady Lions, while Elizabeth Reiser added 12 kills. Kate Carter and Julia Hoke had 10 and eight kills respectively.
Hannah Waid dished out 17 assists and Suzanne McKinney added 14 in the win. Sara Bracewell, Lauren Parks and McKinney had seven digs each for Briarwood Christian.