Teams looking Elite
Getting to the Elite Eight tournament in Pelham is the goal of every high school volleyball program in the state.
Hartselle and Danville have been there and done that.
Now the two teams hope to take that goal a step further with a state championship.
Both programs have been on the rise at the right time and could make strong runs at state championships later this month when the sport takes the center stage at the Pelham Civic Center.
Several other teams have had solid years, including Brewer and Priceville, and could make late runs in post-season play to add their names to the list of Elite Eight participants.
Danville has reached the state tournament five straight times and is a strong contender after thrashing No. 8 West Morgan Monday night in the Class 3A, Area 15 tournament in Danville.
The Lady Hawks improved to 50-19 overall with the two wins in the tournament and now head to region play with a 50-19 record.
Danville has played more matches this season – the Lady Hawks ended last year with a 40-21 mark – but head coach Spencer Cole has scheduled games against some of the top programs in the state to prepare the team for a run to the Elite Eight.
Hartselle is coming off a fourth straight appearance in the Elite Eight tournament where the Lady Tigers finished with a school-record 61 wins.
This year’s team has just one senior – Chelsea Bennich – but the Lady Tigers have overcome a slow start to win 32 of their last 44 games.
Neither Danville or Hartselle is guaranteed a spot in the Elite Eight yet, but can take big steps in that direction this week.
Danville has already claimed a spot in the region tournament Saturday, while Hartselle was scheduled to play in its area tournament Tuesday before press time.
Brewer, a finalist in the county tournament last week after beating Hartselle in the first round, and Priceville will also be looking for regional spots.
The top four teams from each regional will advance to sub-state play where they will be one match win from the Elite Eight.
Sports editor Todd Thompson can be reached at 773-6566 or at firstname.lastname@example.org