The Apalachee High School volleyball team has proven it is the class of its region this fall.
After going through the regular season with a perfect region record, the Lady Wildcats won the 8-AAAAA tournament Saturday defeating Clarke Central in the finals. AHS will enter the state volleyball tournament as a No. 1 seed and will host Union Grove Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Winning the region tournament was not easy, however. AHS was challenged, but the players responded to emerge as champions.
“We managed to battle all the way through,” said Lady Wildcat coach Joey Alfonso. “We were good at stretches and bad at stretches, but we did what we needed to do.”
After defeating Salem last Thursday, the Lady Wildcats defeated Loganville in its first match Saturday.
LHS won the opening game 25-23 before AHS took 25-19 and 25-14 victories to advance.
“I thought we were ready,” Alfonso said. “However, we made a lot of mistakes.”
The win against LHS guaranteed the Lady Wildcats a spot at state, but AHS was not finished yet.
Next up was Gainesville, the host for the region tournament. Alfonso’s team opened with a 25-23 win before falling 26-24. In the third and deciding game, the Lady Wildcats won 26-24 despite 14 mistakes.
The team then was set to face Clarke Central in the championship. The Lady Gladiators took the first game 25-16 before AHS won 25-9, making only three mistakes.
“We showed what kind of team we can be when we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot,” Alfonso said.
The Lady Wildcats then took 25-11 and 25-14 wins to secure the region title.
“It was exciting,” Alfonso said. “The girls played with a lot of character and endurance. We overcame everything to come out on top.”
Cammie Alfonso was named region Player of the Year while also being named first team All-Region along with teammates Lauren MacDowell, Hannah Gomolak and Tiarra Hooks. Morgan Vandergriff was named second team All-Region.
Alfonso had 28 kills during Saturday’s matches while Maddie Swift had 23 kills and six aces. Katie Dean finished Saturday with 15 kills and was instrumental in the win against Gainesville, her coach said.
“If Katie didn’t play the way she did, we wouldn’t have defeated Gainesville,” Alfonso said.
Lauren Macdowell also had 93 assists during Saturday’s matches and finished the region tournament with more than 100 assists.
Alfonso is concerned about his team’s draw in the opening round. While Union Grove is a No. 4 seed, it is actually ranked higher in the state than AHS.
“It’s just like last year,” Alfsono said. “We have a very tough road. We did play a tougher schedule this year so I hope that has helped prepare us. Our area teams have also improved. I hope we can have success in state.”
The Lady Wildcats enter state 38-12 overall.
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