On Tuesday night the Bell volleyball team won a key district game at Dixie County (Cross City) in five sets.
The Bulldogs (6-4) dropped the opening two sets but rallied to win the next three (16-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-13).
Michelle Heilig led the way with 19 kills. The senior finished second with 20 digs behind sophomore Amani Salem (22).
Senior Emma Hutto finished third with 18 digs. She also led the team with 28 assists.
Heilig and Hutto have been a part of three straight district championships for the Bulldogs. They’ve also participated in two final fours and made a state championship game appearance.
Heilig leads the team with 122 kills, followed by junior Ashlee Thomas with 104.
While Bell is just above .500 overall, the Bulldogs are 3-0 in Class 1A-District 6 following the win against the Bears (8-6, 2-3).
“We have battled some injuries and athletes being out in the first part of our season,” said Bell volleyball coach Drue Barry. “We have had to put out some different lineups and bring up some JV girls to fill in spots. I’m proud of how we have battled so far this year.”
The Bulldogs will travel to Class 1A state runner-up Newberry on Thursday night (7 p.m.), and then they will host an eight team tournament on Friday and Saturday. The Lady Bulldog Invitational starts at 5 p.m. on Friday.
“It should be a great tournament as usual,” Barry said. “There are some strong teams in this year’s field. We won the LBI last year but there are some very strong teams who will definitely push to take the tournament title.”
Barry noted Class 2A schools St John Lutheran (Ocala) and Oak Hall School (Gainesville), along with Taylor (Pierson), which drops down from Class 3A to 1A, are very strong teams.
The good competition will help the Bulldogs get ready for the type of teams they will see in October and November during the postseason. Barry still feels like this team can compete for a state title.
“I absolutely think we can make a run this year,” Barry said. “We play a tough schedule and I think that will help down the stretch.”
Union County (Lake Butler), which handed the Bulldogs a 3-1 loss on Aug. 30, is ranked fifth in Class 1A by MaxPreps, followed by No. 6 Taylor, No. 7 Newberry, and 8th-ranked Bell.
Chiefland, which will play Bell twice in the next week, is just outside the top 10 at No. 12.
“There are several teams from our area who can make it to the state finals,” Barry said. “This season there seems to be more balance in the teams around our area. Taylor moving back down to 1A will make it more competitive.”
2021 Lady Bulldog Invitational
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 24-25
St John Lutheran
Oak Hall School (Gainesville)
Columbia (Lake City)
5 p.m. – Chiefland/St John Lutheran
5 p.m. – Bell/Columbia (Lafayette forfeits this game, Bell filling in for make-up game)
6:30 p.m. – Crescent City/St John Lutheran
6:30 p.m. – Taylor/Oak Hall
8 p.m. – Bell/Crescent City
8 p.m. – Taylor/Columbia
10:00 Bell/Chiefland Mayo/Oak Hall
11:30 Crescent City/Chiefland Oak Hall/Columbia
1pm Bell/St John Taylor/Mayo
2:30 #3 (pool A) vs #3 (pool B #4/#4
4:00 #1 vs #1 Championship #2/#2 (3rd Place game)