Providence Christian hopes history happens in a reverse way this week at the AHSAA State Volleyball Championships.
Enterprise seeks to end a long streak of first-round frustration.
G.W. Long wants to move two steps further than they did last year, while Houston Academy, Ariton and Geneva County bid to make history.
Those are the local storylines entering the state tournaments that open Wednesday in Birmingham at the Bill Harris Arena/Crossplex.
Houston Academy is the first local team to hit the floor, playing its Class 3A opener against Carbon Hill at 8 a.m. Enterprise faces Hoover at 9:30 a.m. in Class 7A action and Providence meets Fairview at 12:30 p.m. in a Class 4A contest. Ariton battles Addison, Geneva County plays Cedar Bluff and G.W. Long meets Winston County in Class 2A, all at 2 p.m.
Semifinals in all classes will be later Wednesday, setting up Thursday’s championships.
PCS back at state: Providence Christian is at the state tournament for the 12th straight year and 15th time in their 16-year history in the AHSAA. The Eagles have won two state titles with six runner-up trophies in that time span.
Five of the six runner-up finishes have come since 2013, including last year when the Eagles lost in the finals to Bayside Academy.
Last season, Providence defeated the Admirals at the South Super Regional finals only to see Bayside Academy turn the tables in the state championship match to win a 16th straight state title. The Eagles lost on Saturday at this year’s regional to the Admirals and hope to turn the tables back on Bayside this time around.
Before they can think of Bayside and a possible finals match-up, the No. 2 ranked Eagles (40-12) must get past No. 10 ranked Fairview (49-18) in the opening round. If they win, they will face the winner of No. 5 Jacksonville (40-14) and Montgomery Catholic (25-11) in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m.
PCS beat both Jacksonville and Montgomery Catholic in late August at the Mayor’s Cup in Montgomery.
The other side of the bracket has No. 1 Bayside Academy (53-12) against Central-Florence (42-26) and Brooks (29-33) versus LAMP (21-19).
Enterprise set to break out: The state tournament hasn’t been kind to the Wildcats, who enter this year without a win in their last nine appearances. The last tourney win came in 1989.
Since then, under two different formats, EHS has lost 18 straight matches with 12 coming in the days of the pool/bracket format. Even more galling is Enterprise has won only one set in that span, taking that in a four-set loss to McGill-Toolen in 2004.
The 32-14 Wildcats, a Super South Regional runner-up team led by five senior starters, hope to break out of that funk with a win against No. 3-ranked Hoover (32-14) today. It marks the third time in the last six years the two have meet at state.
The winner of EHS-Hoover match faces the winner of top-ranked Mountain Brook (55-7) and seventh-ranked Auburn (38-18) in the semifinals at 3:30 p.m.
The other side of the bracket features No. 2-ranked and two-time defending state champion McGill-Toolen (37-9) against Thompson (32-16), the lone newcomer in this year’s 7A field compared to last year, plus No. 4 Bob Jones (32-14) versus Baker.
HA relies on seniors: With six seniors leading the way, Houston Academy has advanced to the state tournament for a second straight year and is seeking the program’s first state tournament win since 2001.
While the Raiders won in 2001, it came in pool play before a quick exit in bracket play. HA has not won a bracket play match at state and has lost 13 straight tourney matches.
A year ago, Houston Academy lost a nail-biter to Geraldine in the first round, but they hope an experienced squad helps them push past their opening round this year.
A regional runner-up last week, the No. 5 Raiders (31-12) open against No. 7 Carbon Hill (43-28), last year’s state runner-up. The winner faces either No. 3 Geraldine (40-8) or No. 10 Prattville Christian (30-18) in the 2 p.m. semifinals.
The other side of the bracket features top-ranked and defending state champion Montgomery Academy (44-6) against No. 9 Westminster Christian of Huntsville (23-17) plus No. 4 ranked Lexington (44-13) versus No. 2 St. Luke’s (38-10).
G.W. Long wants longer stay: Two years ago, G.W. Long reached the state tournament for the first time. Last year, they won a match to advance to the semifinals. Now, they want to take another step — the state championship match.
The No. 2-ranked Rebels (44-6) enter with momentum after winning the Class 2A South Super Regional on Saturday. They were the lone Wiregrass teams to win a title in Montgomery.
They open their state-title pursuit against No. 3 ranked Winston County (23-17), last year’s state runner-up. The teams met two years ago in the first round with Long falling to the Yellow Jackets.
The winner plays at 5:30 in the semifinals against the winner of No. 4 Sand Rock (36-13) and No. 7 Cottage Hill Christian (24-11).
Ariton, Geneva County seek first win: Geneva County and Ariton are also in the Class 2A field, both seeking their program’s first state tournament win.
Geneva County makes its first state tournament appearance in 40 years. The Lady Dawgs last appeared at state in 1979, going 0-2.
Behind a late-season surge, GCHS has won 11 of its last 15, including three of four at the regional to finish as runner-up.
The Lady Dawgs (23-13) take on No. 6 Cedar Bluff (41-19) in the first round.
Ariton, meanwhile, is making a third-straight trip to the state tournament. The previous years the Purple Cats lost to Altamont, but won’t see them this year as Altamont didn’t qualify for state.
Instead, Ariton (21-9) has to play top-ranked and defending 2A state champion Addison (42-13), which has won five straight titles over Class 1A and 2A.
The Geneva County-Cedar Bluff winner and the Ariton-Addison winner meet in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m.
Regional first: G.W. Long’s regional title last week was its first in volleyball. The Rebels were runner-up the year before to Ariton.
Area titles: Enterprise and Providence Christian maintained impressive area tournament title streaks last week.
Enterprise won its 27th straight area tournament and its 41st in the last 42 years going back to 1976. The lone year EHS didn’t win an area tournament was in 1991 when Carroll claimed the area crown.
Providence Christian, meanwhile, won its 12th straight back since losing an area final to Kinston in 2007.
Goshen earned its ninth straight area tournament crown, while Opp won its third and Houston Academy and Geneva County won their second straight.