SIMPSONVILLE — The Hillcrest Rams moved one step closer to defending their Class AAAA volleyball state championship with a 3-0 win over the Rock Hill Bearcats Thursday night at A.C. Duckett Gymnasium.
The win improved Hillcrest to 52-3-1 on the year and sent them into the championship game on Saturday. The loss ends Rock Hills season at 25-12-1.
Hillcrest won the opening game of Thursdays Upper State Championship, 25-16. Rock Hill won the first point, but the Rams scored the next two for a 2-1 lead. They never trailed the rest of the night.
When Maddie Palmer scored on a kill, Hillcrest was up 7-4. The Rams upped the count to 13-6 on a kill by Sydney Moseley, but Rock Hill fought back.
When Brooke Black scored on a kill across the court, the Cats had cut the lead to 14-11. They would get no closer the rest of the game. Palmers kill made it 20-13, and they coasted from there for the win in the opening game.
The Rams dominated the second game and won 25-6. Callie Yeargin scored on a kill to give Hillcrest an early 7-2 lead, and the Rams were off and running. They proceeded to go on a 10-1 run to make it 17-3 when Kiah Cheatham recorded a kill. Moseley ended the game with a kill down the line.
Hillcrest won the third game 25-16. The Rams started quickly just as they had in game two. They opened a 9-4 cushion, but Rock Hill fought back. Behind kills by Macey Brazzell and Brooke Black the Cats cut the lead to 11-10.
The Rams answered by going on a 7-1 spree to take an 18-11 lead. It was yet another kill by Palmer that produced the lead. The Cats regrouped, made some outstanding plays, and charged back to make it 19-15. The Rams closed out the game by scoring six of the final seven points.
Palmer led the way for Hillcrest with 15 kills. Moseley added 14, and Cheatham had 10. Kaylon Amick ran the floor show and recorded 26 assists.
They were the better team tonight, said Rock Hill head coach Cindy Elder. They ran a very fast tempo. They had three hitters coming in all night. You have to adjust very quickly to stop that. We just were not very effective with the block tonight.
Black led the Cats with 7 kills, while Bullock had 5. Christen Bragg had 14 assists on the night.
Elder was disapponted in the loss to the Rams, but not at all disappointed in the season her team experienced.
We had a great season, said Elder. Our players worked extremely hard all season. They came ready to play every day at practice from the beginning. We did not have a dominant player. We had a good group of hard workers. They played well together, and picked each other up. Our bench players made the starters work every day at practice.
She reflected on the teams 14-0 season in the region and its importance in helping the Cats prepare for the playoffs.
Our goal at the beginning of the year was to win the region, said Elder. The region was realigned this year. It was a stronger region. It was harder to win the region, and I think that playing a harder region schedule and getting through it undefeated really helped us when we got to the playoffs.
I am very proud of what our team accomplished this year, Elder said.