Brooke Lucas, a three-year Lady Bearcat volleyball starter, never knew the score or who was winning during the first-round playoff match against Maudlin on Tuesday.
Or at least, that's what the Lady Bearcat senior had in mind as the Class AAAA playoffs began.
"We are always told to never look at the scoreboard," Lucas said after Rock Hill advanced to the second round with a 3-1 victory over a pesky Mauldin squad. "Every time while serving during the game, I try to block out fans and everything else. That is my way of staying focused."
That philosophy worked well for the Lady Bearcats, who got off to a huge 20-7 advantage in the fourth and decisive set, only to see Mauldin stage a late rally with six unanswered points to trim the deficit to six.
However, the Lady Bearcats were able to regroup and regain momentum with sophomore Britney Bernard dinking a return volley for a point; Lucas blocking a spike attempt; and Jessi Farrington and Paulette Rivers drilling consecutive spikes for the match point at 24-18.
Mauldin answered with two straight kill shots, but an unforced Lady Maverick error gave the Bearcats the final point and the win.
"We really had to focus on our serves," Rock Hill coach Cindy Elder said. "Mauldin had the one girl who is a great passer, and we kept serving it to her. We then started serving it away from her."
Rock Hill, 16-2, will host second-round playoff action on Thursday against the Irmo-T.L. Hanna winner.
• BYRNES 3, FORT MILL 2 -- In Fort Mill, Fort Mill had nine lives Tuesday evening in the opening round of the state AAAA volleyball playoffs. Trouble was, the Lady Jackets needed 10, as they fell to Byrnes 3-2.
The Lady Jackets lost the first two games, but rallied to win the next two, forcing a decisive game five. Byrnes finally finished off Fort Mill 15-10.
Fort Mill opened the first game with five consecutive points behind senior Danielle Randolph's serving. After two quick side-outs, the Lady Jackets acquired a 9-2 lead, and it appeared as though the Region 3-AAAA co-champions would roll past the Lady Rebels.
Byrnes bounced back to take game one 25-18, then reeled off the first nine points of game two before prevailing in game two 25-19. Despite being down 11-1, Fort Mill fought back and outscored Byrnes 18-14 the rest of the game, providing momentum for a comeback.
With their backs to the wall, game three started closely contested, but Fort Mill responded with nine consecutive points by Meghan Marr and dominated the remainder of the game.
The Lady Rebels won the toss in Game 5 and responded by scoring the first three points, needing only fifteen points for the win.
Fort Mill's coach called a time out trailing 3-0 in game 5, in essence icing Byrnes server Bekah Frost. The ploy worked as Frost's following serve sailed out of bounds, but Fort Mill could not regain control, before finally falling in game five 15-10.
"It is hard not to let this loss take away all we have accomplished as a team this season," said Fort Mill coach Chris Gritz. "We played with a lot of heart tonight and the girls played their best. We just could not overcome a few of our mistakes that cost us a couple of key points.
"We had been in this situation (down 2-0) several times this season and won, but we just could not pull it out tonight. Despite the loss, we have a great group of girls and we had a great season."
Byrnes advances to round to face the winner of the Easley/Aiken match.
Fort Mill had outstanding effort by Weldon Deas, Lauren Ficklen, and Allison Rogers.
-- Ryan Troutman
• HILLCREST 3, NORTHWESTERN 0 -- In Simpsonville, Northwestern's season ended on the road in the first round of the AAAA volleyball playoffs at the hands of Hillcrest.
The Lady Rams got better as the match went along, winning each successive game by a wider margin to sweep the Lady Trojans from the playoffs.
• DORMAN 3, CLOVER 0 -- In Roebuck, Clover's attempt to advance in the class AAAA volleyball playoffs was cut short on the road by Dorman in convincing fashion.
The Lacy Cavaliers swept the Lady Blue Eagles in three games, winning each by at least 8 points.
Clover remained unbeaten this season as they confortably defeated Hillcrest in the opening round of the state AAAA tennis playoffs.
The Lady Blue Eagles won five of the seven matches to move their record to a perfect 19-0 and advance into the second round.