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County volleyball more competitive than ever

This weekend’s county volleyball tournament could be the most entertaining installment yet.

The traditional powers—Isabella and Jemison—are as powerful as ever, but upstarts Chilton County High and Thorsby have closed the gap.

“I think this is the most wide open it’s ever been, without a doubt,” said Isabella coach Glen Graham, who is in his 12th season at IHS and will be coaching in his seventh county tournament.

The tournament was resumed in 2003 after a hiatus in the 1990s and the early part of this decade. Either Jemison (four times) or Isabella (twice) has won the tournament each year since its resumption.

But CCHS and Thorsby have proved already this season they can compete. The Rebels have beaten Jemison twice, and the Tigers have taken at least one game from every other county team.

“We do have more confidence,” Thorsby coach Ginger Williams said. “We know what we’ve got to do. They know if they play as well as they’re capable, that we can beat anyone. That’s important.”

The Rebels (17-14) have reaped the benefits of the maturation of a core group of seniors: Kelsie Davis, Michelle Hendrix, Brittany Maddox and Stephanie Moore. All but Davis were freshmen on Williams’ first Thorsby team, and they are finally experiencing the success Williams said would follow if they were willing to work hard.

It will take even more hard work if Thorsby, or CCHS, is to break the Isabella-Jemison stranglehold on county volleyball.

Isabella won last season behind tournament Most Valuable Player Amber Wyatt and Graham thinks his team may be peaking at the right time, but Jemison has arguably been the county’s best team for most of the season.

“It’s going to be whoever is on their game,” Graham said.

The county tournament will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at CCHS. The round robin play will feature best-of-three matches in the following order: CCHS-Jemison, Isabella-Thorsby, CCHS-Isabella, Jemison-Thorsby, CCHS-Thorsby, and Jemison-Isabella.

The second ever junior varsity county tournament will begin at 3 p.m. Thursday at CCHS. It will follow the same format and schedule of play as the varsity tournament.