The historic season continues for the Apalachee High School volleyball team.
Coach Joey Alfonso’s squad defeated North Springs Tuesday in the second round of the state playoffs and advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in program history. AHS won in a tie-breaking fifth game 15-9 after North Springs had rallied from a 2-0 game deficit.
“We had the desire to win,” Alfonso said. “Our program continues to get better every year. These girls have a will to win.”
Despite advancing, the Lady Wildcat coach said his team still made too many mistakes allowing North Springs to climb back into the match. AHS won the first game 25-20 before winning 25-21. It appeared the Lady Wildcats would put the match away in three consecutive games but North Springs fought back for 25-22 and 25-23 wins. That forced a fifth game which AHS won as it reached 15 points first.
The Lady Wildcats entered the postseason as the No. 1 seed from 8-AAAAA while North Springs was the No. 3 seed from 7-AAAAA.
“We still get to move on and that’s the important thing,” Alfonso said.
The Lady Wildcats now have a program best 40 wins.
The next opponent for AHS was not immediately known. The Georgia High School Association will now seed the remaining teams from 1-8. Alfonso said it was possible the Lady Wildcats could be seeded eighth.
“We’ve been matched up with very tough regions the last few years,” the coach said. “You complain about it but it doesn’t do any good. It’s hard to know what they are going to do. We were ranked in the Top 10 after the regular season but who knows if that will make a difference.”
The fact that AHS entered the postseason as a No. 1 seed has no impact moving forward.
“Volleyball is the only sport they do this way,” Alfonso said.
The next round is scheduled to begin Friday.
FIRST ROUND VS UNION GROVE
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 to 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.”