he Thompson High volleyball team is not traveling into uncharted territory on Friday when the Warriors play in the Class 7A North Super Regional Tournament in Huntsville. However, it’s far from familiar territory for nearly every player on the Thompson roster.
Senior Mikayla Touhey is the only current Thompson player with Sweet 16 playing experience. She was a freshman when Judy Green’s first Thompson team advanced to the Super Regionals. Friday’s quarterfinal matchup with Mountain Brook, which is slated to begin at 12:45 p.m. at the Von Braun Civic Center, will be the first opportunity that anyone else on the Thompson roster has played on a team that advanced this far.
A quarterfinal win will cement a spot in the State Volleyball Tournament, which begins on Halloween at the Birmingham CrossPlex.
“I think our team is beyond excited,” said Thompson head coach Judy Green. “It’s a whole new experience for everybody and I think that makes it fun. It’s kind of like kids in a candy store.”
No matter what happens on Friday, the Warriors have already put together a memorable season. They extended the season at least one more game earlier this week by outlasting Oak Mountain in the first round of the Class 7A Area 5 Tournament. The Warriors fell to Hoover in the area championship game.
“We’ve been in almost every situation imaginable,” Green said. “Nothing should feel foreign to us at this point. I think you could see the look in our player’s eyes before they even left campus the other day. They were determined. I knew they would be focused, it was just a matter of keeping them calm and keeping them confident through the match.”
Now the Warriors face a Mountain Brook team that won a pair of games against Thompson this season. Green is confident her team can find a way to battle with the Spartans, who captured an area championship.
“I’ve watched enough film and watched the passion that we didn’t bring to the court when we played against them,” Green said of the first two Mountain Brook matchups. “We’re at a different level now. We’ve got an opportunity in front of us where if you’re going to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. Mountain Brook is going to be a great opponent. They’re well coached and they’re organized. We’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game.”
It will take a team effort to pull of the feat. As usual, leading the way will be a special senior class that consists of Touhey, Diamond Gilliland, Katherine Lillie, Sierra Calhoun and Madison Wright. But the Warriors are much more than that.
“The beauty of our team is that we are a true team,” Green said. “It is certainly the closest team I have ever coached since I’ve been at Thompson. They love each other. They love their coaches, their coaches love them. When love is stronger than anything else you can prevail. We’re going to fight with everything we have to protect our family tomorrow at 12:45. We’re going to see what we can do with the idea that we’re definitely not wanting our season to be over.”