This Friday and Saturday the Bell volleyball team will host an eight-team volleyball tournament.
The Lady Bulldog Invitational (LBI) will include two of the top eight teams in the state in Class 1A in No. 4 Union County (Lake Butler) and host Bell, which is ranked eighth.
“We have been hosting the LBI for at least the last eight years I believe, and it could be longer than that,” said Bell coach Drue Barry. “It always features a lot of strong local talent and allows teams to see where they stack up.”
This year's LBI should be very competitive again with Class 3A schools P.K. Yonge and Crescent City and 5A Columbia (Lake City) also comprising the field.
“The LBI is always a good measuring stick on how you are doing because after the tournament we are about halfway through the regular season,” Barry said.
Pool A will feature Bell, PK Yonge, Crescent City, and Chiefland, while Pool B will include Union County, Columbia, Lafayette (Mayo) and Trenton.
“We have already had a great battle with Union County this season (losing in five sets) at their place so if we meet up at the end of the tournament it may give us a little extra motivation,” Barry said. “We just played PK (3-0 win on Monday night) and they are super athletic and can play with anyone in the tournament.”
Union County, which is looking to defend last year’s district title, was undefeated five games into this season. However, the Tigers lost at unbeaten Baker County (Glen St. Mary) in five sets last Tuesday.
The Wildcats (7-0), who are ranked sixth in Class 4A, also defeated Union County in Lake Butler in five sets this past Monday.
“We played up and down against them,” said first-year Union County coach Tifani Knox. “We failed to communicate and didn't execute our offense.”
Despite the loss, senior outside hitter Jaycee Davis reached 1,000 kills for her career. She had already surpassed 1,000 digs.
“Those milestones are a direct reflection of her dedication and hard work,” Knox said. “She is an exceptional athlete, leader, and teammate and deserves recognition for her accomplishments.”
Davis leads the Tigers with 118 kills and 102 digs this season.
Union County (6-3), which lost to Taylor (Pierson) at home in four sets on Tuesday night, is looking forward to this weekend’s tournament.
“We are excited to compete in the Bell Tournament,” Knox said. “We are looking forward to executing our offense and communicating as a team for a successful outcome.”
P.K. Yonge (4-3) opens against Chiefland (2-7) while Columbia (6-5) will face Trenton (1-7). The first serve for both matches is at 5 p.m. on Friday.
At 6:30 p.m. on Friday, P.K. Yonge will play Crescent City (6-5) and Union County will play Trenton.
Bell (6-4) will play Crescent City at 8 p.m. on Friday, while Lafayette will face Union County.
Play continues at 10 a.m. on Saturday and will conclude with the third place and championship games at 4 p.m.
“The key for us to win the tournament is to do what we have been doing all year and that is playing our game and not making the unforced errors,” Barry said. “The tournament games are the best 2 of 3 so a fast start is essential to being successful.”
Bell, which is aiming for another district title and a deep playoff run, is led by senior Ashlee Thomas with 128 kills, while junior Karys York leads the team with 225 digs.
The next two weeks are packed for the ‘Dogs as they play seven games this week and four games next week, ending with a trip to Class 3A Marianna High School next Saturday.
That’s 11 games in a two-week span.
“At the end of this stretch we should know a lot about our team,” Barry said.
Lady Bulldog Invitational, Sept. 16-17
Pool A (Bell, PK Yonge, Chiefland, Crescent City)
Pool B (Union County, Columbia, Lafayette, Trenton)
Friday, Sept. 16
5 p.m. – Chiefland vs. PK Yonge
5 p.m. – Columbia (Lake City) vs. Trenton
6:30 p.m. – P.K. Yonge vs. Crescent City
6:30 p.m. – Trenton vs. Union County (Lake Butler)
8 p.m. – Bell vs. Crescent City
8 p.m. – Lafayette (Mayo) vs. Union County (Lake Butler)
Saturday, Sept. 17
10 a.m. – Bell vs. Chiefland
10 a.m. – Lafayette (Mayo) vs. Columbia (Lake City)
11:30 a.m. - Crescent City vs. Chiefland
11:30 a.m. – Union County (Lake Butler) vs. Columbia (Lake City)
1 p.m. – Bell vs. P.K. Yonge
1 p.m. – Trenton vs. Lafayette (Mayo)
2:30 p.m. - #3 seed (A) vs #3 seed (B)
2:30 p.m. - #4 seed (A) vs #4 seed (B)
4 p.m. - #1 seed (A) vs #1 seed (B) (Championship)
4 p.m. - #2 seed (A) vs #2 seed (B) (3rd place game)