Facing the eighth-ranked Mauldin Mavericks, the fourth-ranked Nation Ford Falcons rallied after dropping the opening set to win three straight to take the match, 3-1, and advance to the third round of the 4A state playoffs.
Mauldin came out in the first set to open things with a 6-0 start taking Nation Ford by surprise and quickly leading to a time out from Falcons’ head coach Carrie Christian.
Nation Ford struggled to recover from the opening deficit, as Mauldin extended its lead scoring four of the next five points to take a 10-1 lead.
The Falcons woke up soon there after, but chipping away at the lead wasn’t easy. Nation Ford was able to cut the Mauldin lead in half at 15-8, but still struggled with returning the ball at times. Those issues led to another Falcons time out. Mauldin strategically caught Nation Ford out of position and put the ball in play along the back line to score points in winning the opening set.
The third set between the two teams started a lot closer with the match tied at 1-1. Both teams traded points, struggling to gain an advantage over the other. Nation Ford took a 6-4 lead, while Mauldin stayed within striking distance. The Falcons started to pull away some taking a 11-7 lead forcing a Mauldin time out.
After the time out, Nation Ford really started to take command using a strong presence at the net and forcing Mauldin to make mistakes. However, the Mavs did make a late run to close the gap, but not enough to take the win.
With Nation Ford leading 2-1, both teams started the fourth set going back and fourth. The Falcons then scored four unanswered points to go up 10-6 before a Mauldin time out. Nation Ford made sure not to have a let down out of the time out and continued to press the Mavs into bad returns.
Leading 20-11, Nation Ford let Mauldin back in the match allowing them to score five straight to make it 20-16 and forcing the Falcons into a time out. Mauldin stayed on the attack, but again, Nation Ford played well down the stretch to close out the set and get the win.
Nation Ford’s Jessica Kemp led the Falcons with 18 kills, three aces, seven digs and five blocks. Clarissa Bates had a double-double with 14 digs and 42 assists and Chanel Turner had nine kills and 18 digs as well for the Falcons.
“We had a bad warmup and it made our girls start out nervous,” Christian said. “Once we got over that the girls were alright.”
Nation Ford 3, Mauldin 1
Records: Mauldin 24-6-0; Nation Ford 37-13-2.
On Deck: Nation Ford moves onto the third round of the 4A state playoffs and will take on the T.L. Hanna Yellow Jackets Thursday in Anderson.