Briarwood, Oak Mountain headed to state tournament

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

BIRMINGHAM – The AHSAA volleyball Super Regionals took place from Oct. 20-21 in Huntsville and in Montgomery, and seven Shelby County schools took part in some respect. The Westminster School at Oak Mountain, Indian Springs, Calera, Briarwood, Helena, Chelsea and Oak Mountain all made it out of area play and into their respective Super Regionals, but only Briarwood and Oak Mountain advanced out of Super Regional play and into their respective state tournaments.

The top four teams from each Super Regional qualified for the state tournament in that respective classification. In the 1A-6A classes, that meant teams had to win at least two games to qualify for their state tournament, while in the 7A class it meant teams had to win just one game to make it through. The Lady Knights from the Westminster School at Oak Mountain, in their first year as a program, were knocked out of the 1A South Super Regional in the first round by Brantley, 25-15, 25-18, 25-14, ending their season, but the Lady Knights were the only Shelby County school that did not win at least one game in their Super Regional.

Indian Springs, Calera, Chelsea and Helena each won their respective first round games. Springs beat Houston Academy in the 3A South Super Regional in a thrilling match, 25-23, 25-19, 12-25, 24-26, 15-11 but was then knocked out in three sets by 14-time defending volleyball champion Bayside Academy, eliminating Springs one game shy of returning to the 3A state tournament. Calera also fell just short of returning to the 5A state tournament for the second year in a row. The Lady Eagles beat Jackson easily in the opening round of the 5A South Super Regional 25-18, 25-10, 25-8, but then lost a heartbreaker to Rehobeth 25-22, 19-25, 20-25, 25-18, 15-13, ending their season.

Helena and Chelsea each won a game in the 6A South Super Regional as well, the Lady Huskies taking out Northview 25-9, 25-5, 25-11 and the Lady Hornets taking out Dothan 26-24, 25-23, 25-11, before both lost in the second round. Helena was taken out by Spanish Fort in straight sets, while Chelsea lost a heartbreaker to Daphne 21-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-18.

Briarwood, the upset winners of the 5A Area 8 championship, started fast in the first round of the 5A South Super Regional against Carroll and held on late for a 25-8, 25-12, 22-25, 25-17 win to advance to the second round. In the second round, the Lady Lions took down Dallas County in straight sets 25-10, 25-13, 25-15 to punch their ticket to the 5A state tournament. Briarwood eventually beat Rehobeth, the team that knocked Calera out, in the third-place game 25-19, 25-20, 25-17 to claim the No. 3 spot out of the 5A South Super Regional heading into the state tournament.

The Lady Eagles from Oak Mountain, participating in the 7A North Super Regional, had one of the most thrilling state qualifying matches found across the state, as Oak Mountain battled back from down match point to Bob Jones to pull out the 25-18, 25-27, 23-25, 27-25, 15-11 win. The Eagles were then beaten by eventual 7A North Super Regional champ Huntsville, and then were beaten by Hoover in the consolation game to claim the No. 4 seed out of the Super Regional.

As the No. 3 seed out of the 5A South Super Regional, Briarwood will now take on the No. 2 seed out of the north, Lawrence County. That game will take place on Oct. 26 at 8 a.m. at the Birmingham Crossplex. The winner will advance to the 5A semifinals which will take place later that day. Oak Mountain, as the No. 4 seed out of the south, will take on 7A North Super Regional champion McGill-Toolen at 8 a.m. at the Crossplex as well.