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Lady Bulldogs fall at state

Andalusia's A.C. Riley tips the ball over the net. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

PELHAM — On the ride home from Pelham on Wednesday afternoon, Andalusia volleyball coach Angie Grimes had only one thought on her mind — getting ready for next season.

The Andalusia Lady Bulldogs fell to Jacksonville 3-0 in the quarterfinals at the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Elite Eight state volleyball tournament at the Pelham Civic Complex.

Andalusia faced a tough Jacksonville team that Grimes said after thinking about it, her team could’ve beat.

“I just told the girls all year long that when you get to this level, that your ability to run your offense, and transitioning from defense is crucial,” Grimes said. “We did not get the hits we needed to (Wednesday).”

Jacksonville won the match 25-8, 25-20, 25-15, taking advantage of Andalusia’s weakness on the inside middle.

The Lady Bulldogs had a good 2010 season, winning the Class 4A, Area 3 tournament, finishing as the No. 4 seed at regionals and defeating Jemison in the sub-state round last week.

Andalusia couldn’t get anything going in the first game, where Jacksonville struck out to an early 8-2 lead.

The Lady Bulldogs only managed to add six more points, as Jacksonville led 13-4, 16-4, 18-8 and 20-8 during the opening game.

The start of game two was a completely different story for Andalusia, as the Lady Bulldogs led 7-5 early.

Errors proved costly for the Lady Bulldogs (18-10), and Jacksonville was smelling victory leading by four at one point of the game.

After the third game loss, the Lady Bulldogs, instead of shedding a few tears; held their heads high.

Jacksonville’s Haley Jackson and Katie Neisler led in kills with eight each; Allender Doggett contributed with seven kills and five digs; Lana Bell had 12 digs; and Nicole Penny led in assists with 26. Jackson and Penny had two aces each.

Andalusia’s A.C. Riley led in assists with 26, and contributed with two blocks; Shi’Amber Townsend had one ace, and three each in kills, blocks and digs; Alison Daniels had one kill, seven blocks and two digs; Ellie Pollock had 17 digs; Erica Staley had five kills, and two each in blocks, digs and aces; and Megan Pugh had one block.

Andalusia will lose three seniors this year to graduation, with most of the players coming back next year.

Grimes said that’s one positive that can be taken from state, and this past season.

“I thought we looked a whole lot better on offense,” she said. “I saw some great improvement on defense. It gives you a good idea of who we will have to replace.

“On the way home, I already start thinking about what we can do better next year,” she said.