1009-Tallassee 9

Caleb Turrentine / The Tribune Tallassee’s Belle Haynes hits the ball.

The final volleyball matches of the regular season are being played this week and while some teams are still on the court, many teams have already turned their focus to postseason. Several schools have already punched their tickets to the super regionals by earning a bye to their area championship matches but there is still plenty to play for entering Monday and Tuesday’s tournaments.

Tallassee is one with work left to do as its five-team area has no teams automatically clinching a spot in super regionals. The Tigers wrapped up their regular season Tuesday with a match at Brewbaker Tech which will be the same gym they return to for the Class 5A Area 4 tournament.

“I think we’re playing better but I still don’t think we’re playing the best we can,” Tallassee coach Katie Rigsby said. “I’d like to say things are clicking and coming together toward the end of the season and that’s what you want. Hopefully it comes together for the area tournament.”

The Tigers will be matched up with St. James in the first round, a team they split with during the season. The Trojans are a typical volleyball powerhouse but they are in a down year and Tallassee is hoping to take advantage of that.

“You want to get into super regionals,” Rigsby said. “It’s a must-win for us. We want to do it for our seniors and not have it end in the area tournament again.”

After the match against Brew Tech, Rigsby said the Tigers were going to turn their focus to St. James for the rest of the week before hitting the court Monday. She does not want her players to get too confident just because they beat the Trojans once already.

“You have to put that aside,” Rigsby said. “When we beat them, I told them they could celebrate it that night but you had to let it go. They’re a great team and they’re always going to be a top program. You have to show up every time against them.”

Elmore County is hitting the court with one of the state’s more impressive streaks on the line as the Panthers look for their 10th straight area title. Despite dropping an area match at Holtville, Elmore County will still host the Bulldogs and Handley for the Class 4A Area 5 area tournament Monday.

“We try not to mention it but it looms there,” ECHS coach Kim Moncrief said. “The girls understand that getting a No. 1 seed and hosting guaranteed us to go to the super regionals so they are not having that pressure on top of the streak. They just want to focus and give their best game to the winner of the first match.”

Holtville will have to take down Handley in the first round to ensure Elmore County gets that rematch. Moncrief said the Panthers are looking forward to another shot at the Bulldogs but there is now plenty of confidence on the other side too.

“We have been playing really well these past few weeks,” Holtville coach Alison Franklin said. “And that win over Eclectic sure does give us a lot of excitement to go into the area tournament. We are excited for what can happen that day but you have to win game one to even go to super regionals. So we are not focused on what we can do against Eclectic because we have to win against Handley before worrying about them.”

Elmore County took some time off at the beginning of the week to take a break before the postseason but the Panthers are going to hit the court hard to get back in the swing of things before the postseason.

“We are going to work hard in practice after giving them a couple of days off for Fall Break,” Moncrief said. “We have some things we have been working on both offensively and defensively. And we are just going to focus on playing all rallies through to the end.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.