North Murray (20-21-3) enters the tournament as the No. 2 seed and will play No. 7 seed Ringgold at 6 p.m., with eighth-seeded Cartersville facing top-seeded Sonoraville at the same time. Those two first-round matches follow fifth-seeded Coahulla Creek’s tilt with No. 4 seed Adairsville and third-seeded Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe against No. 6 seed Fannin County at 5 p.m.
The losers of those four matches will play in elimination contests at 7 p.m., dwindling the tournament field to six for Saturday’s conclusion.
Last year, North Murray’s Lady Mountaineers entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed and finished third before advancing to the second round of the Class 3A state tournament bracket.
North Murray coach Connie Hudgins said the team’s preseason goal was to finish with at least as many wins as losses. But for a young roster — the Lady Mountaineers only returned one starter, middle hitter Grace Phillips — finding a way back to the state playoffs would be a nice bonus.
“There were some matches where we got lucky and other matches where we didn’t play as well and lost (this season),” Hudgins said. “So even in a rebuilding year, we’ve been competitive.”
Coahulla Creek’s Lady Colts (10-26) are trying to make the state tournament for the first time in the program’s three-year history. Coahulla Creek was a win shy of reaching state last year.
“I think it’s up in the air,” Lady Colts coach Julie Norton said. “The fact that we’re sitting at the fifth spot and have beaten the second-place team (North Murray) a couple times this year, I think it depends on who shows up (today) and Saturday and who wants it.”
Murray County (3-20) is the seventh seed and will play at Calhoun’s gym against the second-seeded host Lady Yellow Jackets at 5 p.m. Third-seeded Armuchee faces No. 6 seed Pepperell in the other match at Calhoun’s gym, while No. 4 seed Coosa and No. 5 seed Model play at Chattooga, which enters the tournament as the top seed and has a first-round bye.
At Calhoun, the winners of the first two matches will play at 7 p.m., with the losers not playing again until Saturday. At Chattooga, the winner of Coosa versus Model will play the host, with no other matches until Saturday at Model.
Last season, Murray County finished a win shy of the Class 2A state tournament. Coach Kim Richards said her team is “cautiously optimistic” about its chances of reaching the state playoffs this year.