Hartselle falls to Mountain Brook in state championship
The Hartselle Tigers returned to the state championship game this year for the first time since they won the 5A State Championship in 2012. They faced off against Mountain Brook, who won the 7A State Championship in 2019.
It was the Spartans (34-12) who took advantage of uncharacteristic errors and slow starts and swept the Tigers in three sets, 25-11, 25-15, and 25-16, to win the 6A state volleyball championship.
“Maybe we were a little nervous,” said Hartselle Coach Tanya Lybarger. “It was our first time on this big of a stage. We just never could find our rhythm.”
Hartselle fell behind early in each set as Mountain Brook jumped out to a 14-4 lead in the first, 11-4 in the second, and 13-6 in the third.
Even though they fell behind, the Tigers didn’t quit. They continued to battle and fight to get back in the match.
Hartselle was led by Lillyanna Cartee, who was named to the 6A All-Tourney Team. She finished the state tournament with 54 digs and 41 kills.
Grace Tapscott recorded 91 assists for the Tigers. She entered the tournament needing 68 to break the school record. She also picked up her 3,000th assist for her career.
“These ladies are like my own,” said Lybarger. “I love them so much, and I am very proud of their accomplishments.”
The Tigers advanced to state by picking up two wins on Oct. 27 in the Elite 8 and Final Four rounds.
“I think my girls played really well and kept fighting and never gave up,” said Lybarger.
In the Elite 8, Hartselle defeated St. Paul’s Episcopal in three sets, 25-23, 25-21, and 25-20.
They were led by Cartee, who finished with 19 digs and nine kills. Hailey Holshouser had 13 digs and seven kills, while Jadyn Chesser added 10 digs and eight kills.
Hartselle met up with Spanish Fort in the Final Four. The Toros defeated the Tigers in last season’s Final Four matchup on their way to winning the 6A State Championship. This year, however, the Tigers pulled out a five-set victory over Spanish Fort, 25-23, 17-25, 25-23, 21-25, and 15-9, to advance to the state championship match.
A crucial turning point in the match came in the third set when Hartselle rallied back from trailing by 10 points to win the set.
“After the Toros won game four, my girls said it was their match and they were not going to lose,” said Lybarger.
Hartselle (54-12) says goodbye to four seniors – Cartee, Holshouser, Tori Hughes, and Jessica Jarrett – who Lybarger said were the heart and soul of this year’s team.