Focused on area

Published 12:03 am Thursday, October 18, 2012

Opp’s Alex Ann Ballard (left) and Nish Stoudemire in action during an earlier game this season at Pleasant Home. | File photo

Local volleyball teams start postseason today

Local volleyball teams have been focused on one thing this week — the area tournament.

Opp, Straughn, Pleasant Home, Andalusia, Red Level and Florala will play in their respective area tournaments today and tomorrow for the right to play in the Super Regional Tournament next week in Montgomery.

The Lady Bobcats will host the Class 3A, Area 2 tournament, where Straughn will face Excel in the first round starting at 4 p.m. today. Opp will play the winner of the first match for the area title.

Pleasant Home will host the Class 1A, Area 2 tournament, something that’s never been the case for the Lady Eagles. Kinston, who is in the same area, has always hosted the tournament.

Kinston will face Florala at 1 p.m. tomorrow, and the winner of the first match will play PHS for the area title.

Andalusia travels to Monroeville to face Monroe County today in a best 2-out-of-3 series. There are only two teams who have volleyball programs in Class 4A, Area 2.

Red Level will be at Brantley today at 4 p.m.

The winner and runner up from each area tournament advance to the Super Regional Tournament, which will take place next Friday and Saturday.

AHS, RLS, PHS and OHS have already secured a berth to the next round.

OHS volleyball coach Christie Spurlin said the girls have been practicing hard this week.

“I hope the girls are ready,” Spurlin said. “They say they’re ready. I just want to make sure everybody’s on top of their games and ready to play.”

Unlike Opp, SHS has to play a first-round match against Excel to have a chance to play in the Super Regional.

SHS head coach Marc Tracy said he’s stressed to the girls that they need to “focus” on the first match.

“You don’t want to overlook them,” Tracy said. “(Excel) got much better the second time we played them. Obviously, we’d like to have a chance to play Opp.”

Straughn hasn’t had the best of luck in the first round of the area tournament in the past. The Lady Tigers fell to Ashford last season when they were a Class 4A team.

Tracy said he feels like the team has improved this season.

“We played Opp in both of our matches early on in the season,” he said. “After we played Opp and while they have improved, I feel like we’ve improved as well.

“We’re playing at a much higher level. I’m sure they’re (Excel) going to bring their ‘A’ game.”

Pleasant Home coach Jerry Davis said he can’t remember if there ever was a time where Kinston didn’t host the area tournament.

“We’re excited to be this far and to get to host, that’s the biggest thing,” Davis said. “I feel like we’re definitely the under dogs. They’re good. We’d have to play as well as we can play to win.”

This season, the Lady Eagles and Lady Bulldogs split in area with PHS winning the first match.

“We’ve played a total of 10 sets against them and they won five and we’ve won five,” Davis said. “We’re just looking forward to it.”

When asked what the advantage of winning the area title is, all of the coaches said their teams will get a good seeded team in the first round in Montgomery.

“If we come out a winner, that’ll put us in a better bracket at the Super Regional,” Spurlin said. “It puts us against a runner up, and that way we’ll have a better chance of winning.”

Area winners will get a later playing time next week, which can help as well, Tracy said.

“That’s not really as big of a deal as the match ups,” he said.

The picture doesn’t look good as to who his team might get matched up with next week, Davis said.

“Our area did not draw a real good area,” Davis said. “You can’t ever tell though. You don’t know how your girls will react.

“If you walk in feeling like you’re beat, then you’re beat,” he said. “With volleyball, these kids give everything they got.”