LEXINGTON — It was business as usual on this late October day in the Lexington High School gym Thursday afternoon.
With basketball season bearing down, volleyball coach Melissa Hammond had her team, as it has nearly every day since the first week of August, taking up her allotted space on the gym floor.
As is the norm, Lexington is playing a little bit longer than most schools in the area. The Golden Bears travel to Birmingham on Wednesday for what they hope results in three wins and the school’s eighth state championship.
With what appears to be a favorable draw, the Bears are favored to reach the championship match against likely either Providence Christian or Hatton.
Lexington opens with Zion Chapel at 1:30 p.m. at the Birmingham Crossplex, the
new site of the Elite Eight tournament.
“I like the draw, but it depends on how we play,” Hammond said, assessing Lexington’s title hopes. “Providence Christian has been ranked No. 1 or 2 most of the season, and I know they have a good team. I don’t know much about the other teams from the South.”
In addition to Providence Christian, the bracket includes Mobile Christian, Houston Academy and Zion Chapel from the South, and Hatton, West End and Sand Rock from the North.
Sand Rock extended Lexington to five games in Saturday’s Super Regional semifinal and Hatton took the first game in the championship before losing 3-1.
“As a coach, you always hope you are peaking at the right time,” Hammond said. “This team is capable of winning the state tournament but everything has to go just right. Our teamwork has to be clicking. If we play like we are capable, we have a good shot to win it.”
Junior middle hitter Addie McGee is confident heading to state.
“I feel like we are playing pretty well,” she said. “There are always areas where you can improve. We have to buckle down and get our head in it. If we work together as a team and play hard, I think we can make it to the finals.”
McGee experienced a near championship this past season as the Bears made it to the title match before losing to Cottage Hill.
“I feel like we are just as good as last year’s team,” she said. “We’re probably a little closer than that team.”
at Birmingham Crossplex
Providence Christian vs. Sand Rock, 1:30 p.m.
Hatton vs. Mobile Christian, 1:30 p.m.
Houston Academy vs. West End, 3 p.m.
Lexington vs. Zion Chapel, 3 p.m.
Semifinals, 7 p.m.
Championship match, 1:30 p.m.