LYNN — The Marion County Lady Red Raiders are the 2023 North Alabama Conference (NAC) tournament champions.
The NAC tournament began on Thursday, Sept. 7, and continued on Saturday, Sept. 9, at Lynn High School.
Six teams from Marion, Winston and Fayette counties competed in the tournament, which included Lynn, Hackleburg, Hubbertville, Phillips, Brilliant, Berry and Marion County.
Hackleburg defeated Hubbertville in the opening game, but fell to Lynn in the following game.
Brilliant’s Lady Tigers defeated Phillips, and Marion County kicked off their winning streak with a win over Berry.
On Saturday, Phillips won their first game in the loser’s bracket against Berry, which knocked Berry out of the tournament.
The Lady Red Raiders played three sets against the Lady Tigers, winning the first 25-16, losing the second 26-24 and dominating the third set 15-3 to send the Lady Tigers to the loser’s bracket.
Next up were Hackleburg and Phillips in the loser’s bracket. The Lady Panthers won in two sets, 25-16 and 15-13, to stay in the tournament.
The Lady Tigers played against the Hubbertville Lady Lions in the next loser’s bracket game. The Lady Tigers won in two sets, the first one a close 24-23 and the second 25-10.
At noon, Lynn and Marion County played for the first time in the winner’s bracket. Marion County won the first set 25-14, and won the second set 25-20.
Back in the loser’s bracket, Hackleburg and Brilliant played against each other. The Tigers won both sets to stay in the tournament, while the Lady Panthers were eliminated with their second loss.
After the loss to Marion County, Lynn played Brilliant in the loser’s bracket. The Lady Tigers won the first set 25-21, but Lynn came back and won the second set 25-16, and then narrowly won the third set 18-16.
That left Marion County and Lynn as the only two teams left in the tournament.
The Lady Red Raiders took the lead in the first set, getting up to 7-5. But the Lady Bears closed the gap to tie the game at 9-9.
The score remained close, but the Bears started to gain more and more as the set continued, holding at least four points ahead until they won the first set 25-19.
The Raiders came back with a vengeance in the second set, quickly taking the lead and staying at least two points ahead of the Bears until they won 25-18.
Tied with one set each, it all came down to the third and final set. If Marion County won, they won it all. If Lynn won, the two teams would have to play again.
The third set was close. The score was tied at 3-3, before Marion County briefly took the lead.
The score tied again at 6-6, but the Raiders took the lead once again.
There were more ties at 8-8 and 9-9, after which Lynn took the lead briefly.
The score tied again at 13-13, when Lynn scored to set themselves up with the game point.
The Raiders held strong and tied the score at 14-14, giving them room to breathe since either team would have to win by two points now.
But the Bears weren’t done, and tied the game again at 15-15. They scored again, and the Bears were at game point once more.
Marion County fought back and tied the game again 16-16. This time, it would be the Raiders who broke the tie to take the lead 17-16.
The Raiders scored one final point to win the set 18-16, which won them the match and the NAC tournament.
See complete story in the Journal Record.