Nov. 1—BIRMINGHAM — It was a tough pill to swallow for Lawrence County on Tuesday evening.
In the semifinals of the 5A state volleyball tournament, the Red Devils saw their 48-win season come to an end in a 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-18) loss to No. 1 ranked Montgomery Academy.
"This one's tough," said Lawrence County head coach Robyn Hutto. "Our motto is one game at a time, but we always had the goal of getting to the championship game. We had been here before, and we wanted to finally get over that hump and get to the finals."
"We thought we had a great shot, but they're an amazing team," Hutto added.
Knowing the task they faced in taking down Montgomery Academy, the Red Devils got off to a dominant start, taking a 10-2 lead in the first set
Being the top team they are, however. the Eagles quickly regrouped and took control, outscoring Lawrence County 23-5 in the remainder of the set.
"They started getting balls in the system, and I knew when they got it together they were going to be explosive," Hutto said. "We weren't able to match that."
Ava Boyll led the team with 11 kills and three blocks. Sarah Dutton had 14 digs, and Kylie Graham had eight digs and 11 assists.
The good news for Lawrence County, despite hinting over the past couple of seasons, Hutto said Tuesday's game wouldn't be her last.
"Not yet. I still have a little fire in me."
Lawrence County escapes early exit
Lawrence County's stellar season almost came to a surprising end Tuesday in the first round of the 5A state volleyball tournament.
Facing off against Sylacauga, the Red Devils were pushed to a full five sets, squeaking out the win 3-2 (25-27, 25-11, 25-23, 12-25, 15-3).
"I knew they were going to be tough. They were happy to just be here, so they had nothing to lose," Lawrence County head coach Robyn Hutto said. "I never get hot whatsoever, but that one made me sweat."
Fortunately for the Red Devils, they had been here before.
Lawrence County was playing in its third straight 5A state tournament and had four starters that have played in all three.
"We toured the facility Monday night, and I asked them who all had played here before. All these hands shot up, and I told them they needed to play like it," Hutto said.
Lawrence County lost the first set in overtime but bounced back to win the next two.
"This place can be pretty overwhelming and overstimulating if you've never played here before," said senior Ava Boyll. "Having played here before definitely helped us not lose our heads."
After dropping a lopsided fourth set, Lawrence County dominated the fifth to seal the win.
"I know we probably had some fans worried, but there was never a doubt in our minds," Boyll said.
Boyll led the team with 19 kills, while Bentlee Cross had 12 kills and 16 digs. Kylie Graham had 25 assists and 15 digs.
Brewer falls to No. 1
The Brewer Patriots were eliminated in the first round of the 5A state tournament, losing to No. 1 ranked Montgomery Academy 3-0 (25-8, 25-17, 25-12).
The Patriots fell behind early and were never able to find their rhythm.
"I think the nerves got to us. We have so many that had never been on a court in that situation before," said Brewer head coach Jill Faulkner. "Slow starts have kind of been a thing for us all year because we're so young. It's gotten progressively better, but today was a tough spot."
Brewer's best chance came in the second set when they were neck and neck with the Eagles through the first half of the set. A small run by Montgomery Academy, however, put the set out of reach and ultimately sealed the win.
"We've had a few rotations all year that we're just not as dominant in," Faulkner said. "Depending on the day they seem to get us, and today was one of those days."
With just two seniors total and only one that played Tuesday, Faulkner hopes the experience will pay off for next season.
"This was very important for us. My speech to the girls was that if you want to be back in this moment and don't want it to end like that again, then you better start working now."
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