The process, however, has been tweaked.
Most are excited, some aren’t, Alabama High School Athletic Association spokesman Ron Ingram said. Like many in the upcoming presidential election, count Jacksonville coach David Clark among the undecided.
“I’m going to wait and see,” he said.
Jacksonville is among 16 teams from around the area who have qualified for the Super Regional, a round of the postseason that replaces the sub-state and sub-regional rounds of old. With the super-regional, two postseason rounds have been condensed into one with one for the North, at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, and one for the South, at the Crampton Bowl Mutliplex in Montgomery.
The first levels of the bracket are single elimination. Win in those two rounds, and your ticket to the Elite 8 at the Pelham Civic Complex is punched; lose, and your season is done.
After that play continues, but it is for nothing more than Elite 8 seeding purposes.
“Schools seem to be real excited,” Ingram said. “The volleyball committee brought the idea to us … It really puts those schools, who may have had to travel and compete against home-court advantage in a neutral location.
“It’s really going to be a championship-caliber atmosphere.”
Travel, Ingram said, was one of the committee’s concerns. And with the Super Regionals, while not exactly centrally located in the state, they do eliminate one round altogether, thus cutting down on at least some mileage.
But it’s still a bracket format, where many times luck plays a major role, Clark said.
The bracket was somewhat kind to Clark and his Lady Golden Eagles — at least kinder than last year, when they played top-ranked Guntersville in the semfinals, a match Clark said, “could have been the state title match.”
Fifth-ranked Jacksonville (33-16) drew Priceville in the first round, and will get the winner of No. 3 Wilson and Crossville. It’s a dicey match to get into the safe rounds.
But it’s nowhere near the hill Alexandria must climb.
The Valley Cubs take on Haleyville in the first round and then will likely face second-ranked Guntersville (59-12), the three-time defending state champion.
Jacksonville avoids Guntersville and top-ranked Madison County, also in the North Super Regional, until the finals.
“It’s actually pretty good,” Clark said. “I can’t really ask for too much more.”
Assistant Managing Editor Bran Strickland: 256-235-3590. On Twitter @Bran_Strickland.