The Rock Hill Lady Bearcats moved on to the third round of the state volleyball playoffs by fighting off North Augusta. Rock Hill won the match 3-0.
Call it nerves, tentativeness or cautious play. Both teams felt the pressure down the stretch.
The Bearcats held a 24-21 lead in the final game. Then a pair of North Augusta blocks tied the game. It took three lead changes and the senior leadership of Jessi Farrington with the serve to close it out, 29-27.
The win was a nice gift for Rock Hill coach Cindy Elder, who was celebrating her birthday.
"We played very tentative, but we've been in tight situations all year," Elder said. "We like to play aggressive. But sometimes the girls don't respond the way we like them to."
Next up for Rock Hill is a match against the winner of Irmo at Hillcrest. If Irmo wins, the No. 1-seeded Bearcats will host the match on Tuesday. Rock Hill will travel to Simpsonville should Hillcrest win.
Hillcrest won the state championship last year.
Aided by some untimely miscues by the Yellow Jackets, Rock Hill came back from a 22-17 deficit to win the first game, 26-24.
All-state player Brooke Lucas had an acrobatic dive to dig out a spike by North Augusta's Amber Townsend late in the game. She not only got to the ball, but returned it gently over the net and out of reach to give Rock Hill a 23-22 lead.
North Augusta stuck close again in the second game before junior hitter Paulette Rivers took over. Rivers had two kills and Emily Tumlin added two service aces as Rock Hill scored the final six points to win 25-15.
"Paulette goes in and they can't stop her. She is a force. Karlee DuBard is such a floor-leader. She shuffles them around and they listen to her. She has their respect," Elder said of her all-region setter.
North Augusta's season ended for the third straight year in York County. Fort Mill knocked the Yellow Jackets out in the first round in 2005 and '06.
"We are an offensive team. We try to win by swinging," Yellow Jackets coach Chris Emerling said. "We just made too many errors at critical times to win. We made a passing error and a serving error at the end of the game ... cardinal sins."