Editor's note: Arab won its first-round game against Pleasant Grove on Wednesday morning and was set to play Alexandria at 3:30 Wednesday afternoon with a state playoff berth on the line.
Arab volleyball coach Amy Hudson wasn’t surprised that Guntersville rose up and beat her Lady Knights in the first game of the 5A, Area 14 Tournament finals last Wednesday night.
Good that she wasn’t because almost everybody else was.
Arab went undefeated in area regular season play, winning every match 3-0. Against Guntersville, that dominance extended to two more matches because of the Marshall County Tournament. Thus, the Lady Knights had won 10 straight sets against the Lady Wildcats before last Wednesday.
But Arab (44-12) overcame that punch in the nose and went on to down Guntersville 21-25, 25-16, 25-17, 25-18 to capture the area’s No. 1 seed and advance to the North Super Regional, to play Area 9 runner-up Pleasant Grove, at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Von Braun Center in Huntsville.
“They did a good job of staying calm and confident and not panicking when they lost that first set,” Hudson said. “It was pretty emotional.”
The Lady Knights had just defeated Scottsboro 25-16, 25-12, 25-7 in the semifinals, so they might have been a bit tired as the championship finals began. But Hudson wasn’t offering excuses. She credited an improving Guntersville squad instead.
“I wasn’t surprised how difficult Guntersville was,” she said. “I knew they had potential. I knew they had good players.”
No. 2 seed Guntersville had defeated Fairview in the first semifinal in four sets, 21-25, 25-17, 30-28, 25-23.
After Arab’s match against Pleasant Grove on Wednesday, Guntersville was set to play Area 9 champion Ramsay later in the morning. Ramsey defeated Pleasant Grove in three sets in its area tournament.
Arab was ranked No. 5 and Guntersville No. 7 in the final AL.com rankings released last week.
Should Arab win its first-round regional match, it would play the winner of Alexandria vs. Madison Academy at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Win that match and Arab advances to the third round at 12:45 p.m. today (Thursday) and also qualifies for the state tournament beginning next Tuesday, Oct. 25, at the Birmingham CrossPlex and Harris Arena.
The 5A North regional finals and third place march are scheduled to start at 5 p.m. today.
In the area tournament, Arab was led by All-Tournament selections Anna McFerrin, Karli Walker, Laney Kelley, Marissa Pope and Sami Kate Hudson. Kelley was named Tournament MVP.
Guntersville sent three players to the All-Tournament team: Jadyn Bonds, Tazi Harris and Lanie Phillips.
Fairview sent Kabri Redding and Abby McDonald to the team, while Scottsboro’s reps were
Brinley Ross and Lilla Bell.
Meanwhile, Brindlee Mountain defeated Asbury 3-0 in the first round of the 3A, Area 13 Tournament last Wednesday before losing to tournament host Susan Moore 14-25, 13-25, 13-25.
The Lady Lions (13-28) advanced to the 3A North Super Regional as an area runner-up. They’ll play Area 10 winner Ohatchee at 9 a.m. Thursday, also at Von Braun Center. Should the Lady Lions win that match, they would play the Colbert Heights-Glencoe winner at 3:30 p.m. today.
Susan Moore (46-8) plays Area 10 runner-up Piedmont, also at 9 a.m. today. The 3A North Regional semifinals (10 a.m.) and finals (1 p.m.) will be played Friday.
• Arab closed out its regular season with a trip to south Alabama the week before area tournament play.
On Oct. 6 in Gulf Shores, Arab lost to Montgomery Academy 25-16, 21-25, 10-15 before defeating
Orange Beach 25-21, 31-33, 15-12.
In the Shrimp Fest Tournament played Oct. 7-8, Arab defeated Good Hope 25-20, 25-11; lost to Enterprise 23-25, 21-25; defeated Montgomery Academy 21-25, 25-17, 15-8; defeated Northridge 25-19, 12-25, 15-12; and lost to Westminster 25-22, 18-25, 13-15.