The Fort Mill Yellow Jackets held off a rally from Nation Ford to get a 3-2 win in five sets over their rivals, handing the Falcons their first Region 4-5A loss of the season.
Nation Ford, 13-14 overall, has played a strong schedule to prepare for region play.
Fort Mill, 18-7 overall, also played a tough non-region schedule.
Fort Mill was led by Joli Merriam, who had 17 kills, and Claire Cicciarello with 8 kills. Also leading the Jackets were Brooke Farley, with 35 assists, 8 kills and 13 digs, and Brynn Bonner, with 17 digs.
In the first set Tuesday, the Falcons jumped out 5-0 lead, before the Jackets took an early timeout.
Fort Mill rallied to tie the set at 8-8. After being tied at 11, the Jackets scored four straight points forcing Nation Ford to take a timeout. Fort Mill maintained control to win the opening set, 25-20.
Nation Ford jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set and extended its lead to 10-6. Fort Mill rallied for a 14-12 lead before the Falcons called a timeout. The Jackets again maintained the lead for win the second set 25-20.
The Falcons turned the tide in the third set, grabbing leads of 7-1 and 12-3 before running away with the set, 25-10, to get back into the match at 2-1.
Nation Ford took a 6-2 lead to open the fourth set and extended the lead to 11-6 before a Fort Mill timeout. The Jackets struggled in returning balls from Nation Ford and at times looked confused on who was going for the ball on serves. The Falcons took advantage to win the set 25-17.
In the fifth set, Fort Mill went up 6-3 and kept the edge playing aggressively and forcing Nation Ford into errors. After a Falcons timeout, Nation Ford scored several points in a row to tie the set at 12-12. But the Jackets stayed with their game plan to pull out the win.
Despite jumping out to early leads, Nation Ford struggled to hold Fort Mill at bay, allowing the Jackets to consistently rally throughout the match. The Jackets were aided by a loud home crowd.
Fort Mill coach Gina Farley said her team stayed with its game plan when it mattered most.
“I know how bad they wanted this win,” Farley said. “We lost our path there for a while. They got a little flat. The fifth set we went back to the game plan. We knew where we needed to place it.”
Fort Mill host Northwestern on Thursday, while Nation Ford travels to Clover, also on Thursday.
Fort Mill 3, Nation Ford 2
Nation Ford 13-15, 3-1 Region IV-5A; Fort Mill 19-7, 2-2 Region IV-5A.