Next week, Baker, Crestview and Laurel Hill volleyball teams compete in district tournament action for a championship and a spot in the state playoffs. Each district’s top two teams qualify for the playoffs.
BakerSchool’s squad, which opens play Tuesday in the District 3-1A tournament at Chipley, seeks an 11th straight district championship and a 21st consecutive trip to the playoffs. The Gators will play the winner of Monday's match between Jay and Chipley. The finals are 6 p.m. Thursday at Chipley.
Baker’s Gators have won the last 10 district championships and have made back-to-back trips to the state final four. Gator Coach Tomikko Parks is counting on seniors Alex Roy, Jordan Linzy, Hana Wadsworth and Miranda Whatmough to lead the team through another playoff run. But “the most important thing that we can do is concentrate on playing our game,” Parks said. “We have seen what everybody has. We know what they are going to do and we just have to make sure we do what we need to do."
CrestviewHigh School hosts the District 1-7A tournament and opens play Tuesday at 6 p.m. against Fort Walton Beach in the tournament semifinals. A win will give the Bulldogs their first playoff appearance since 2004. The tournament finals will be 7 p.m. Thursday.
Bulldog Coach Kathy Combest didn't want to look too far ahead as the tournament approached, but she said Niceville is the team to beat going into the tournament. "I don't want to speculate about the tournament," she said. "We are playing good right now and we don't want to focus ahead until it is tournament time. I just talk about what we have to do and take care of what we do. If we do what we can do, we'll come out on top."
LaurelHill Schoolhas clinched a spot in the playoffs by earning the top seed in the three-team District 1-1A. The Hoboes will play the winner of the Central-Bethlehem match Thursday at 6 p.m. at Bethlehem as they go for their first district title since 2005. They were last in the playoffs in 2008.
Laurel Hill Coach Kent Zessin said his team will be focused even though the Hoboes have secured a playoff spot. "I've seen them so many times throughout the year just sort of get better each match," he said. "They are going to be able to go out there and not get rattled.
"We will play our game. And if we play our game, we will be tough to beat."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.