She likens playing Spring Garden to “having a war”, and that’s a good way to describe their rivalry on the court. The two teams had split their four earlier meetings this season, and their fifth match didn’t disappoint.
The ninth-ranked Lady Tigers outlasted the Lady Panthers in four games, 27-25, 25-21, 20-25 and 26-24.
“We’re both equal,” Hargitt said. “They have good hitters. They have good servers. We have good hitters, and we have good servers. It’s an on-going battle back and forth, and it gets tiring after a while, but we know we have to stick it out and just play our game, play Cedar Bluff volleyball.”
Playing Cedar Bluff volleyball was what Hargitt did Thursday, and it was only fitting that she had the final kill of the match.
“I looked at my teammates, and they were like ‘Audrey, please take this out of our hands,’” she said. “I was like ‘I will.’ I was glad my team was able to trust me with that last point and I was able to do something for them. We’re like sisters. We trust each other. We put our faith in each other. When they put their faith in me, I know I can’t let them down.”
In the Lady Tigers’ (29-18) championship match with Spring Garden (29-18), Hargitt posted 17 kills, 23 digs and three blocks. In the tournament the tournament semifinals against Gaylesville (6-27), Hargitt had 14 kills, 16 digs, an assist and a block.
For her efforts, Hargitt was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“It’s ridiculous how athletic that child is,” Cedar Bluff coach Tiffany Ferguson said. “When Audrey was in eighth grade and I came on here as an assistant coach, when I saw her play for the first time, I automatically recognized her athletic ability. I told her that year ‘I’m going to make you my project.’ She’s busted her tail day-in, day-out, year-round, not just from August until October, and it’s paid off.
“On top of her talent and hard work, when you put her attitude and her leadership ability with it, she’s the kind of player anybody wants. All of her teammates respect her. If Audrey’s on, we’re good. Anything can happen. As long as Audrey keeps her fight and attitude up, then the rest of the girls follow suit.”
Cedar Bluff advances to face Area 9 runner-up Holy Spirit at the regional tournament in Huntsville’s Von Braun Center on Friday at 11:30 a.m. Spring Garden also advances to face Area 9 champion South Lamar at 9 a.m.
South Lamar defeated Holy Spirit in the Area 9 championship match on Thursday 25-21, 25-23, 25-15.
But before Cedar Bluff clinched its latest area championship, it took a comeback effort in game four against the feisty Lady Panthers to do it.
With momentum on their side from the previous game, Spring Garden jumped out to a 22-15 lead and appeared to be set to send the match to a deciding fifth game.
However, that’s when the Lady Tigers beat the Lady Panthers at their own game – making the other team make mistakes.
Cedar Bluff earned six consecutive points – three in a row after Spring Garden hitters knocked the ball out of bounds – to creep within a point at 22-21.
The rally continued, as Cedar Bluff managed to outscore Spring Garden 5-2 down the stretch, with the final kill coming from Hargitt.
“That has been our downfall all year, and (Spring Garden coach) Ben (Carroll) knows it,” Ferguson said. “The first time they beat us at their place, they tipped us to death. I’m pretty sure he coached them to tip us to death. We had to pick it up and cover the court better.
“I told our girls ‘If you’ve got a swing, take it. If you can find a hole and tip it there, tip it. If not, make a smart decision and keep it in play and make them hit it out. We’ll take a point any way we can get it.’ I’m really glad to see that table turned. It’s been us all year long making those unforced errors and digging ourselves a hole. It was nice to have that turned around, to play smarter and with more confidence when we definitely needed it.”
Added Carroll: “Game four we knew was crucial. We knew we had to win it, and they pushed. They wanted every point. They were diving for balls when they needed to and moving their feet when they needed to. I think that says a lot about my team.”
Cedar Bluff’s Hannah Leach and Abby Storey joined Hargitt on the All-Tournament team.
Against Spring Garden, Leach posted 31 digs and 16 kills. Storey managed 23 digs and six kills. Brooke Wood accumulated nine digs, two kills and a block. Marigrace Wilson contributed seven kills, six digs and a block. Paige Bryant tallied 25 digs, and Jasmine Adams added 10 digs, two kills and a block.
In the win over Gaylesville, Leach came away with 15 kills, 12 digs and an assist. Storey contributed 10 digs, four kills and two assists. Wood added 28 assists and five digs. Wilson came away with seven digs, four kills and a block.
Bryant managed 18 digs and a kill. Adams finished with three digs, three assists, two kills and a block.
All-Tournament selections Haley Motes and Madison Sides led Spring Garden against Cedar Bluff.
Motes posted 18 kills, 21 digs, two aces and two blocks. Madison Sides contributed 14 kills, nine digs and three aces. Darby Bryant added 25 assists and 21 digs. Jacqueline Haney had 19 digs and six assists.
Dallas Smith tallied seven kills. Maddy Micha and Emory Reedy had 15 and 14 digs respectively.
Spring Garden defeated sixth-ranked Collinsville (22-13) to reach the tournament championship. The scores were 25-14, 25-17, 22-25, 25-18.
In the win over Collinsville, Motes managed 32 digs, 12 kills, nine blocks and five aces. Sides came away with 19 digs, 10 kills, four aces and a block. Haney posted 26 digs. Reedy contributed 18 digs, five kills and three aces.
Bryant added 17 assists and digs. Smith contributed seven digs, four blocks and three kills. Micha finished with 13 digs.
Carroll said he’s proud of not only how hard the Lady Panthers fought on Thursday, but he’s also proud of how far they’ve come this season.
“From match one to match 46, it’s been a learning experience every day, but they proved tonight they’re where they need to be,” Carroll said. “Going 29-18, I can’t say enough good things about my team. The schedule I made this year was tough, and they’ve really fought. They knew I was going to really push them this year, and they fought hard with me.
“We knew we deserved to be at the super regionals. Did we want to come out area champs? Absolutely, but we still move on. From here on out, who knows what can happen?”
Collinsville’s Brittney Tidmore and Gaylesville’s Hannah Van Pelt rounded out the selections on the All-Tournament team.
In the loss to Spring Garden, Tidmore tallied 11 assists and three digs. Christy Cox came away with 17 kills, nine digs and six blocks. Bailey Click contributed five kills and two blocks. Sydney Jones finished with seven digs.
In the loss to Cedar Bluff, Van Pelt posted 19 digs, nine assists, three kills and a block. Taylor Tomlin contributed 16 digs, four kills, and an ace. Lauren Hammett came away with 14 digs. Alex Montgomery added six digs and five kills.
Ashley Parris and Brittany Partridge posted seven and three digs respectively. Angie Calvert and Kaitlin Van Pelt finished with two and one digs respectively.