Head coach David Clark, who has developed one of the most respected volleyball programs in the state, will return his team to the Elite Eight for the 16th time in his 20-year career.
Jacksonville will meet UMS Wright in the first round of the Elite Eight on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Crossplex in Birmingham with the winner advancing to the next round.
Clark and his teams have seen it all, two back-to-back state championships in 2007-2008.
He has been state-runner up, and has had seasons when he hasn’t made it to the championship game.
This year the Lady Eagles seem to have everything necessary to bring home another state championship.
Jacksonville lost only one player from last year’s state runner-up squad and returned seven experienced seniors. The atmosphere of the Elite Eight Tournament should not affect the players; they are veterans.
Last week Jacksonville claimed the 4A Area 11 championship with a 25-10, 25-13, 25-16 win over Hokes Bluff and then beat Cherokee County, who had just been taken to five games by Alexandria, 25-17, 25-15, and 25-15.
Traveling to Huntsville for the Super Regionals, Jacksonville beat Central Florence 25-23, 25-15, and 25-14 on Friday. On Saturday, the Lady Eagles downed Priceville 25-21, 25-23 and 25-15.
Next up for the Lady Eagles was Madison County, the team the Lady Eagles had met, and were defeated by, in the state championship game last year.
The Lady Eagles started out slowly, losing in the first game 18-25, but then they regrouped and won three straight 25-19, 25-19, and 25-20 for the win.
In the Super Regional championship game the Lady Eagles met Guntersville, a team they had lost to already this season.
While the result was the same, a Guntersville win, 25-18, 25-19, 24-26 and 25-22, the Lady Eagles seemed to have picked up more confidence in playing Guntersville, should they meet them again this week in the Elite Eight tournament.
“We are very excited to have the opportunity to play in the Elite Eight,” said Clark.
“We should have great leadership with all our seniors. The majority of these players were on last year’s team and that experience is invaluable.
“The players know we will have to play on a high level to reach the state finals but they have put the work in and now its time to put it all together.”