E.A. Sports Today

Gracie a go

Lady Cubs setter Muncher giving it a shot; Pleasant Valley relaxed heading into Elite 8

The Alexandria and Pleasant Valley volleyball teams enjoy a little Halloween fun in advance of their respective Elite 8 matches Wednesday morning. (Special photo)

By East Alabama Sports Today

BIRMINGHAM — There’s good news for the Alexandria volleyball team has it heads into Wednesday’s Elite 8 with an eye on finishing the business it left the year before.

Setter Gracie Muncher appears to be ready to play after spending the last couple days rehabbing a torn hand ligament. The Lady Cubs (41-9), last year’s Class 5A state runner-ups, play South-3 Rehobeth (21-7) at the Birmingham Crossplex at 12:30 p.m.

The winner plays the winner of St. Paul’s Episcopal (25-15) and St. John Paul II (21-30) at 5:30 p.m. That winner plays for the state crown Thursday.

“It looks like Gracie will be ready to go some tomorrow,” Alexandria coach Whitney Welch said. “We will try to rest her as much as possible – if we can.”

It sounds like the same approach the Lady Cubs took with hitter Taylor Spradley in the area tournament, although these stakes are a bit higher. Spradley hurt her ankle and was held out of Alexandria’s area tournament opener out of an abundance of caution, but she was able to go in the area title match with Boaz and won tournament MVP honors.

Muncher had 50 assists in the Lady Cubs’ regional semifinal win over Arab, but her hand just became too sore to allow her to play in the final against Lawrence County. She has 3,202 assists in her career, 14th best on the AHSAA all-time list, and second in Alexandria history to Welch.

Sophomore Kayleigh Steen played in her place and recorded 30 assists in the Lawrence County match.

The Lady Cubs aren’t the only Calhoun County team in the Elite 8.

Pleasant Valley (52-8) will play Providence Christian (44-8) in the Class 3A quarterfinals at 11 a.m.

The Lady Raiders are making their first appearance in the Elite 8 since 2011, when they played Providence Christian.

The Lady Eagles have played for the state title each of the last six years. The last time they didn’t make it was 2010, when PV beat them in the semifinals.

The winner plays the Lexington-Montgomery Academy winner at 3:30 p.m.

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