Briarwood advances to Super Regionals

Published 8:04 am Tuesday, October 23, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

BIRMINGHAM – The Briarwood Christian Lions are headed back to Super Regionals this year after finishing as one of the top two teams in Class 5A Area 8.

The Lions competed in the area tournament on Monday, Oct. 22, and were able to pick up a first-round sweep of Woodlawn to advance to the area tournament championship against the Ramsay Rams, where the Lions fell in straight sets, but had nonetheless clinched a spot in the postseason.

Briarwood came out in the first set against Woodlawn and put forth a dominant effort that saw the Lions gain control with a 10-point 25-15 set win.

Needing to avoid a 2-0 deficit to keep from having to win three consecutive sets to keep their season alive, the Colonels came out with a much different attitude in the second set.

While Briarwood still seemed to have the advantage, Woodlawn kept the match close and actually had it within three points late at 24-21, but the Lions closed out the set one point later for the 25-21 victory and a 2-0 match lead.

With the wind seemingly out of their sails, the Colonels knew they had an uphill battle after that and it showed in the third set.

The Lions took advantage of their built up confidence and went on to win the third set by the widest margin of any of the three sets thanks to a 25-12 victory that gave Briarwood the clean 3-0 sweep to advance to the area title match against Ramsay.

Heading into the area tournament championship match, the Lions had plenty of confidence, but had also just got done playing, while Rams, winners of the regular season area title, enjoyed the luxury of the No. 1 seed and being well rested.

The difference in each team’s freshness showed early on, but for the first set at least, Briarwood was able to put forth its best effort and show some promise.

Still, the Lions struggled against the Rams and went on to drop the first set 25-13.

That ended up being the closest of the three sets, as the Rams went on to win the final two sets by a score of 25-9 in each to claim the area championship with a sweep of their own.

For Briarwood, it wasn’t a tough loss, as Ramsay, who has been a competitive 6A team the last two years before moving down to the 5A classification this season, is considered one of the strong favorites to win a state championship this season.

Kaley Bruce led Briarwood in set assists with 18 between the two matches, also adding 15 digs, three kills and two aces. Audrey O’Brien led the team with 24 digs, while also adding six set assists and two aces.

The Lions were also led by Anna Grace Pattillo and Emma Crawford when it came to kills thanks to 10 from Pattillo and seven from Crawford. Patillo also added seven aces to lead the team and finished second on the team with 16 digs. Crawford added four digs and led the team with five blocks.

Briarwood will now take on Marbury on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. at Montgomery’s Crampton Bowl MultiPlex. Should the Lions win that first matchup, they’ll advance to a game later that date at 5 p.m. with a chance to claim a spot in the state tournament.