The Apalachee High School volleyball team probably felt like it hadn't been given its proper respect going into this year’s state tournament.
The Lady Wildcats, despite being a No. 1 seed and Region 8-AAAAA champion, was actually considered an underdog to No. 4 seed Union Grove Thursday. The Wolverines were ranked higher in the state AAAAA poll than AHS despite being the No. 4 seed from 4-AAAAA.
By the time Thursday evening’s first-round state matchup was over, the AHS Lady Wildcats had earned some respect — at least from its opponent — winning 3-1 and advancing the second round Tuesday.
“When you begin state with the No. 6-ranked team, you know it’s going to be tough,” said AHS coach Joey Alfonso. “Our region has had a tough draw the last few years. Union Grove is a great team. However, they had to travel a long way and I think our home crowd helped us.”
Apalachee, who is now 39-12 overall, won the first game 25-20 before falling 25-22 in the second. The Lady Wildcats rebounded to win 25-22 and 25-23 to advance.
In the opener, AHS jumped out to an 11-3 lead and never trailed. Union Grove took its first lead of the evening in the second match at 6-5. The Wolverines held the advantage until the Lady Wildcats moved in front 20-19. Union Grove was able to rally, however, and earn a three-point victory.
In the key third game, Alfonso’s team never trailed although the contest was tied 5-5 at one point.
In the deciding contest, the Lady Wildcats did not lead until they moved in front 17-16 on their way to a two-point match clinching victory.
“We responded well,” Alfonso said. “We won the first game which was important for us. That put the pressure on them.”
AHS will host the second round Tuesday against North Springs.
“We had a lot of our coaches here tonight,” Alfonso said after the victory. “They saw how exciting this can be.”
See complete coverage of the AHS volleyball team in the Oct. 23 print edition of the Barrow Journal.
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