Brewer's Cheyenne McLemore is blocked by Hartselle's Haley Jared and Taylor Dellinger. | Brent Maze

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Hartselle advances to state finals

Published 8:47pm Wednesday, October 31, 2012

BIRMINGHAM – After years of waiting, Hartselle coach Tanya Lybarger will finally get to see her volleyball team play for a state championship.

No. 2 Hartselle (47-17) will face St. Paul’s Thursday morning at the Birmingham Crossplex in the Lady Tigers’ first ever state championship match in volleyball after the Lady Tigers defeated No. 8 Brewer (47-12) 25-22, 18-25, 25-17, 25-23.

Down 20-12 in the fourth set, Hartselle appeared like it might have to beat the Patriots in a decisive fifth set, but Hartselle rallied, 10 of the next 12 points to tie the set at 22-22.

Then, Hartselle finally took the lead at 23-22 and closed out the match three points later.

“What I told them was ‘It’s our time,’” Lybarger said. “We’ve been in this situation before in our own gym. And it was like what it is here. Our crowd was loud and they came back.”

Taylor Lybarger, who led the team with 32 digs along with nine kills and a pair of aces, said she was shaking from excitement following the Lady Tigers’ dramatic comeback in the fourth set.

“I don’t know if we’ll get any sleep tonight,” Lybarger said.

Taylor added they wanted to get “payback” for Brewer beating Hartselle in the county tournament semifinals by returning the favor in the state semifinals.

“I didn’t want it to go to a fifth set,” Taylor said. “We beat them bad early in the year. So when we played them in the county tournament, I think we didn’t take them as seriously as we should have. So we took care of business tonight.”

The win didn’t come easy for the Lady Tigers against the gritty Lady Patriots. After the two teams split the first match, it appeared like Hartselle would run away with the match. They led the third set 23-11.

Brewer won the next six points before Hartselle closed out the set 25-17. However, that run gave the Lady Patriots momentum heading into the next set.

“We just relaxed a little bit at that point,” Taylor said. “We can’t do that tomorrow.”

Brewer took a commanding 12-4 lead early in the set and held it again at 20-12.

That’s when the rally started.

Hartselle won 13 of the next 16 points to close out the match.

“I’m just excited to be playing in the state championship tomorrow,” said Taylor Dellinger, who came to Hartselle from Michigan at the beginning of the year.

Dellinger finished with 19 kills, 22 digs and two blocks. Haley Jared finished with 11 kills, eight kills and two blocks.

Setter Melissa Paul Hill had 45 assists and 10 digs while Sarah Ellen Battles had 22 digs.

Riley Northway led the Patriots with 19 kills, four digs and three blocks. Savana Flack added 16 kills, five digs and three blocks.

Cheyenne McLemore had 23 digs while Reed Sowder had 26 assists. Shelby Dooley added 31 assists.

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