The Rock Hill Bearcats won all three games and defeated the Blythewood Bengals 3-0 in the second round of the Class AAAA volleyball playoffs Thursday night in the Rock Hill gym.
The Bearcats won the opening contest 25-13, and used a tremendous comeback to win the second game 26-24, before moving to the next round with a 25-16 decision in the third game.
The Bearcats jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first game when Emily Russell took over. She recorded three kills and a block as Rock Hill upped the count to 8-2.
Blythewood battled back behind Bijonae Jones and Katrina Samuels to cut the deficit to 16-12. Rock Hill regained control, scoring the next five points to claim a 21-13 advantage and went on from there. Two of the Rock Hill points in the five-point spree were on kills by Russell.
The teams battled head-to-head in the second game until it was was just past the halfway mark. With the score tied at 14, Jones and Samuels led the Bengals on a 9-3 run to take a 23-17 lead.
Rock Hill coach Cindy Elder called timeout, challenged her team, and the Bearcats scored six straight points to tie the count at 23. After Blythewood scored on a Samuels’ block, Rock Hill tied it at 24. Russell’s kill gave Rock Hill a 25-24 lead, and the Bearcats won the next point and went up 2-0 in games.
The third game was tied at six, when Rock Hill went on a 5-0 run to take a 11-6 lead. The Bengals battled back, and cut the deficit to 17-14 when Jones scored on a kill, but they got no closer.
Rock Hill used kills from Russell and Sutton Alexander to key a 6-0 run and take a 23-14 lead. It got two of the last five points to win the game and close out the match.
“Emily Russell was awesome tonight,” said Elder. “She sees the court and the defense very well.”
Russell has been plagued with a shoulder injury since the beginning of the season, but she has worked hard to get through it.
“She has really worked this year. Her serving has gotten better as her shoulder has improved,” added Elder. “She led us tonight.”
Russell ended the night with 14 kills and five blocks. Alexander had 10 kills and two blocks.
Gracie Barnes had six digs and three aces. Christen Bragg had 29 assists.
“Another good effort by everyone tonight,” added Elder. “During the timeout in the second game, we talked about some problems with blocking. Once we got that straight, we were all right.”
Blythewood was led by Jones with 14 kills and two blocks. Samuels added seven kills and three blocks. Leah Gunter recorded 25 assists.
Rock Hill moves to the third round next Tuesday when the Bearcats will host the Dorman Cavaliers.