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On the road to Pelham

Before leaving for the Class 4A Elite 8 state volleyball tournament in Pelham, Andalusia coach Angie Grimes said Tuesday that she knows the caliber of teams her girls will compete against in hopes for a state title.

Today, the Lady Bulldogs will face Guntersville in a best 3-out-of-5 single elimination tournament at 2 p.m. in the quarterfinals.

The last time the Lady Bulldogs competed in the Elite 8 tournament was in 2007. They were knocked out of the regional tournament last year.

“All of the teams we’re going to play are all good,” Grimes said. “You just have to go up there and you have to play your game, stay focused and you have to play point by point and do the best you can.

“The most important thing we can do is to stay together as a team and represent our high school the best we can,” she said.

The Lady Bulldogs (25-13) have been on a successful journey lately.

Andalusia won its area championship, finished third at the regional tournament in Mobile and defeated Jemison last Thursday at sub-state to advance to the state tournament.

“When you have to travel to state, you not only have to be offensively strong — it can carry you a long way during the regular season — but once you get to the state level, you have to have a sound defense,” Grimes said. “We have been working on that a lot. We’ve been practicing blocking and more defense ever since area. I believe that we’re ready for this level.”

Grimes said early in the season, she did not think her team would be able to compete at the state level.

“At the beginning of the year — and I’ve told the girls this — no I did not think we would make it to state,” Grimes said. “We stumbled right out of the gate from the very beginning. At the beginning of the season, I’d have said, ‘We’re going to struggle this year.’ But they have really come together as a team and they deserve to be at this level.”

Grimes said her team is “excited.”

“I think that for the most part they are eager to play,” she said. “They’re excited about going to the tournament.”