Both Guntersville coach Jimmy Latta and Arab coach Cassie Daniels-Mullinax would scream at me for saying this, but those two teams are likely to square off in the final of the Class 5A, Area 14 volleyball tournament at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Arab.
Sure, both teams must get past first-round opponents – in Arab’s case, Crossville (4:30 p.m.), in Guntersville’s case, Scottsboro (5:30 p.m.).
But from what I saw Tuesday at Guntersville, there’s no question in my mind Gun-tersville and Arab will be the two area finalists, meaning both will advance in the post-season.
It’s only fitting that it would come down to these two teams, as they’ve been the class of the area all season. Guntersville was undefeated in area play – until it lost at Arab in three sets.
Arab was 5-0 entering Tuesday’s showdown and lost in four sets.
That one win at Guntersville by Arab is why Arab is hosting the area tournament.
If both of these teams perform like they did Tuesday, local fans should be in for a whale of an exciting match.
In the first set Tuesday, Arab led almost the entire game. With Anna Katherine Griggs – she’s worth the price of admission herself – slamming and dinking winners at the net, Arab seemed to have control.
The Last Knights led 12-7 before the Lady Wildcats took a timeout. The home team slowly crept up on Arab and actually knotted the game at 17-17 before Arab surged ahead again, taking a 21-17 lead.
Guntersville closed it to 22-21 and then Arab took a timeout. Arab won the next point to go up by two but Guntersville battled back to tie it again, 23-23.
Guntersville took its first lead of the match at 24-23, but the teams kept battling back.
After the score went to 25-25, Guntersville scored twice to win, 27-25.
The second set was much the same, though the lead went back and forth more often. Guntersville led 10-7 and 17-11. Arab tied it at 19-19. Arab led 23-20. It was tied 23-23 and 24-24. In all, there were 12 ties in the first two sets combined.
With the score 24-23 in Guntersville’s favor, Arab won a set point that was worthy of the name. With bodies flying everywhere on both sides of the net, players kept making spectacular slams and incredible saves.
When the point was over, one Guntersville player was stretched out injured. Then again, she may have just been exhausted.
This one went to 26-26 before Guntersville pulled away for a 28-26 win, but Arab went down diving.
The first two sets lasted almost an hour, and there was a long break between sets two and three.
Both teams needed it.
Arab won the third set 25-21, earning it the privilege of hosting Tuesday’s area tournament. But the score doesn’t reflect just how tight the game was. There were 11 ties before Arab nudged ahead.
Guntersville won the fourth set 25-18 to earn a share of the area regular season crown.
Now comes the area tournament, and it will be fitting if these two battle it out one more time.
I think they will.
• Arab wrestling coach Michael Pruitt was not discharged from Marshall Medical Center North on Wednesday as expected. He did get discharged Thursday night but not before spending more time in ICU.
Pruitt went to the doctor Monday because he was feeling nauseated but he was hospitalized when doctors discovered a bigger issue: an abnormal heart beat rhythm.
Even after being discharged, Pruitt posted on Facebook that his heart was back out of rhythm but he had medication and was already being checked on by the Heart Center in Huntsville.
He expects to be back at school on Monday.
“I love and miss ALL of my students and fellow staff/friends!” Pruitt posted. “Can’t wait to see everyone again! I’m going to be ok! I gave it to God and I know He’s got me!!”
That’s the hope and prayer for everyone who knows Coach Pruitt.
• While you’re watching the Alabama-Tennesse game this afternoon, think about this. There is actually an online gambling site that has odds on who will be the next Tennessee coach.
Mind you, Butch Jones is still the coach, though he isn’t expected to be retained and may even be dismissed before this season is complete.
The top three names on the list all seem legit: Chip Kelly (+325), Jeff Brohm (+450) and Bobby Petrino (+450).
You’ve also got the likes of P.J. Fleck (+800), Tee Martin (+900), Les Miles (+1,000) and Dan Mullen (+1,800), among others.
Interestingly, Vols legend Peyton Manning is lumped with former Tennessee head coach (and now villain) Lane Kiffin at +10,000.
• They could have done it last night in Game 6 at Houston, but if not, the Yankees still have a chance tonight and next week to do something that as best as I can tell, has never been done: That is, beat three 100-win teams en route to a world championship.
If the Yankees won Game 6 or if they win Game 7 tonight against the Astros, they’ll join some elite company by beating two 100-win teams, the Indians being the first one.
The 2001 Yankees did it against the A’s and the Mariners to make it to the World Series. The 2003 Marlins did it on their way to winning it all. The 2004 Red Sox did it to the Yankees and the Cardinals.
The Kirk Gibson-Dodgers also beat two 100-win teams (Mets, A’s).
But if the Yankees do advance to the World Series, they’ll face another 100-win team in the Dodgers, giving them the opportunity to beat three 100-win teams.
They’ll be a decided underdog, but they’ve been in that role against the Indians and Astros, so anything’s possible.
• Former ESPN reporter Andy Katz will work for Big Ten Network in studio and on game broadcasts this men’s basketball season.
• A non-sports note: The Eagles, minus founding member Glenn Frey, played at Atlanta’s Phillips Arena last night and will play there again tonight.
Tickets ranged from as low as $77.60 to $424.20 for seats right in front of the stage. There appeared to be some available.
The Eagles are in the middle of a mini North American tour that wraps Oct. 27 in Detroit. The band returned to the stage this summer at Classic fest gigs in Los Angeles, New York and Seattle.
The shows marked the Eagles’ first without Frey, who died in 2016.
In his place, the group’s new lineup features Frey’s son, Deacon, and country singer Vince Gill.