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Volleyball state playoffs: Hillgrove at Lambert
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Lambert and setter Kendal Barrett are back in the state playoffs for the first time since 2011. - photo by File photo

Hillgrove at Lambert

When, where: Thursday, 6 p.m., at Lambert High School.  

Records, rankings, seedings: Hillgrove is 23-16, unranked in Class AAAAAA and the No. 3 seed from Area 4-AAAAAA; Lambert is 35-11, No. 4 and the No. 2 seed from Area 6.

What to know: Lambert is in the state playoffs for the first time since 2011 and just the second time in the program’s brief history, but the Longhorns can’t be cast aside as feel-good newcomers; Lambert is a top 5 team in Class AAAAAA. Two things have helped the Lady Longhorns this season: the emergence of Ashley Cruise and Madeleine Bertz. Cruise leads the team with 425 kills and has become one of the best outside hitters around. Bertz has a team-best 117 blocks to go along with 233 kills, giving Lambert a new dimension at the middle of the net for opponents to contend with. They’ve filled out Lambert’s team to compliment setter Kendall Barrett (777 assists), libero Jordyn Moellering (577 digs) and defensive specialists Savannah Beer (392 digs) and Sissy Allen (221 digs).

While Bertz has 117 blocks by herself, Hillgrove has 89 blocks as a team. Hillgrove spreads the offense around between senior Janna Jernigan (228 kills), sophomore Quinn Dunlap (179) and senior Brittany Tyllier (174). Myah Martin leads the team with 145 digs. Allison Purdue has a team-high 387 assists, but Erica Washington has added 208. If Lambert can get by the Lady Hawks, it’d likely play an Etowah team it defeated in straight sets back on Sept. 19.

Who’s next: The winner will play the Etowah-Brookwood winner.