STATE VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT: Addison falls to G.W. Long in State Championship Match

The Addison Lady Bulldogs finished the 2019 season as Class 2A Runner-up after falling to G.W. Long in Thursday’s State Championship Match. (Nick Griffin for The Cullman Tribune)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Lady Bulldogs of Addison were in familiar territory Thursday when they hit the floor at Bill Harris Arena to take on G.W. Long. Addison was back in the state championship match and going for its seventh consecutive state title against the Lady Rebels but unfortunately for Bulldog fans, the streak came to an end after Addison fell to G.W. Long in four sets.

After the match, Addison Head Coach Kayla Woodard talked about this year’s team and what they’ve accomplished throughout the season. Woodard is proud of her team and believes they were just outplayed by the Lady Rebels on Thursday.

“I’m just super proud of this group. I told them this loss doesn’t define who you are as a team or as individual players. We’ve had a great season, played a lot of good teams and have been successful all season long but I think they were just better today,” Woodard said. “Hats off to them, they were really good but that doesn’t take anything away from us and I’m still really proud. They’ve worked really hard all season and it just didn’t fall like we wanted it to today.”

Woodard said her team played a little nervous during Thursday’s matchup and thinks it got the Lady Bulldogs out of their game.

“I was a little surprised by how quickly we got up in the first set, but I wasn’t surprised that they fought back. We didn’t handle to pressure like we needed to,” Woodard said. “I think we were playing a little tight, a little nervous and just not like us. That’s what I told them in the locker room. We didn’t play like we can today.”

One of Addison’s seniors, Savannah Manley, echoed some of her coach’s thoughts, saying the Lady Bulldogs played tight after taking the opening set.

“I think that in the first set we really came out on top and had the momentum obviously and then when we started the second set, we were just tense the whole time. We just couldn’t really get back in our rhythm, you know.”

Woodard hopes that they can find multiple positives in this loss. For the Lady Bulldogs returning to the court next year, she hopes that the pressure to win has dropped a bit while the motivation to get back on top rises in 2020.

“I told them for those of you coming back, I think this is going to be a good thing because it’ll take off some of the pressure they felt. During the first championship we won, these girls weren’t even in high school yet. They were young and remember being the little girls in the stands cheering so I think there will be a little less pressure, but I also think it’ll be motivation for them to work hard because now they know how this feels. It’s been a long time since we’ve felt a loss like this and I think that’s going to be good motivation for them to work hard because I hope they don’t ever want to feel like this again.”

G.W. Long 3 – Addison 1 (25-18, 21-25, 22-25, 15-25)

The opening set was tied at three early on, but the Lady Bulldogs got into a rhythm after that and tore off 10 straight points to go up 13-3. G.W. Long managed to trim the lead down to 15-7 at one point but Addison kept the Lady Rebels at a safe distance at 18-10 before pulling away to take the first set 25-18.

G.W. Long gave the Lady Bulldogs more problems in the second set. The Lady Rebels went on top 5-1 to start fast and maintained a 10-5 advantage as the set progressed. After falling behind 13-7, Addison went on a scoring run to trim the lead to 13-11 but G.W. Long pulled back ahead 17-13. The Lady Bulldogs got the score to 23-21 late in the set but the Lady Rebels managed to hang on and even up the match with a 25-21 win. It was the first set Addison has lost this postseason.

Addison jumped out to an early 3-1 lead in the third set, but G.W. Long was able to rally and tie the set at 6. With the set tied at 8, the Lady Rebels used a 4-1 scoring run to go up 13-9 before the Lady Bulldogs bounced back to tie things up at 15. The score was knotted at 19 late in the set but Addison couldn’t keep pace with G.W. Long and dropped the third set 25-22.

With their backs against the wall in the fourth set, the Lady Bulldogs built an early 5-4 lead but could never get the lead back after the Lady Rebels pulled ahead 6-5. G.W. Long stretched the lead to 16-11 midway through the set before a 7-4 scoring run made it 23-15. Addison wasn’t able to get on the board again and fell in the fourth set 25-15, securing a state crown for the Lady Rebels.

Manley posted 19 kills, three aces, two blocks and a dig for the Lady Bulldogs, Callie Crider finished with 14 kills and 10 digs, Addisyn Smothers added 11 kills, 10 digs and an assist, Macey Butler posted 14 digs and 11 assists and Gracie Manley added eight digs, three kills, two aces and two blocks.

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