HUNTSVILLE- It has been four long years since any ball team at Bob Jones has claimed a state title but the volleyball team is poised to end that drought this week. And the Patriots of Coach April Marsh are right where they want to be.
“We wanted that #1 seed,” Marsh said. “We get a #4 from the south and that is an advantage. And winning give us confidence. The more we win the more confident our team is.”
A mix of size, experience, hard work, coaching and desire came together at the AHSAA North Regional and they blew through three Birmingham-area teams.
Friday, they quickly dispatched Vestavia in straight sets. Saturday, they were equally impressive against the team that knocked them out last year, Oak Mountain.
“We came out and played well,” Marsh said. “We set the tone and were in control. We lost one game to Oak Mountain but came back and took control of the next game to advance.”
Then the real test against reigning state champion Mountain Brook.
In a marathon match that lasted over three hours Bob Jones came from two sets down, evened the match, then blew out the Spartans 15-8 in the fifth set.
By the end of the match the physical conditioning was evident as Bob Jones seemed to wear down the Spartans.
At the state tournament in Birmingham (Nov. 1 and 2) Bob Jones will open against Mary Montgomery, a team under .500 for the season. Then they will get the winner of the Enterprise-Oak Mountain game.
On the other side of the bracket the top seed from the south, McGill-Toolen, will open against Hoover and face the winner of Mountain Brook-Baker.
The tremendous amount of off-season work the players have put in seems to be paying off. Bob Jones players seemed energized by the comeback against Mountain Brook and after almost five hours of play on Saturday had plenty left in the tank.
“Physically, their work is showing on the court,” Marsh said about her team that starts five seniors. “Since we got beat last year our goal has been contending for a state championship and their actions have shown it. We don’t talk a lot about the teams we play. We always talk about what we are doing and we used the same lineup we have used all season in these games.”
Marsh knows her team will still face a challenge to claim their first state championship in 7A.
McGill-Toolen has been the #1 ranked team in 7A in the state all season. They are 43-8 on the season.
“Oak Mountain has most of their team back from last year. Hoover has an outside hitter committed to D-1. Mountain Brook is young but they are scrappy and they have a new coach. We will have our hands full.”
By Lindsay Vaught