High School Sports

Cardiac 'Cats win again

ROCK HILL -- Call 'em the comeback 'Cats.

Rock Hill advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class AAAA volleyball playoffs with another thrilling come-from-behind victory Thursday over Mauldin.

The Bearcats won 25-19, 26-24, 27-25.

"It's just unbelievable they can come back that far," Rock Hill coach Cindy Elder said of her girls' gutsy performance.

The Bearcats jumped out early in game one before being forced to hold off a late-game run by the Mavericks en route to the win.

Elder believes Tuesday's tough five-game match with Nation Ford prepared her team for what unfolded in games two and three.

With game two tied at 6, Mauldin (21-8) was able to string together eight straight points and seemed to have Rock Hill on its heels. But, with Tuesday's comeback fresh in their minds, the Bearcats countered with a run of their own to draw within two, 14-12, behind the strong serving of junior Gretchen Simon.

Mauldin, leading 24-21, was whistled for an attacking error, giving the ball back to Rock Hill. With Simon serving, the Bearcats reeled off five points to seal a game two win. Rock Hill's commanding frontline, led by Paulette Rivers and Karis Watson, stuffed a Mavericks' attack for set point.

Both teams traded points early in game three before the Mavericks stormed to a 20-10 advantage. Alicia Bragg stopped the bleeding for Rock Hill when she smashed the ball past Mauldin. She added another kill two points later and the momentum shifted in favor of the determined Bearcats.

Trailing 23-17, Simon took serve for Rock Hill and led the 'Cats to within one. Mavericks sophomore Heather Granger's dump pass over the net fell to the floor giving Mauldin a chance to serve for the win. After a rally, Rivers again spiked it to the floor to set up the on-the-edge-of-your-seat finish.

Simon held serve for Rock Hill, the role player for much of the season that has come to life in the playoffs. Down one, 24-23, Simon led her team to a 25-24 lead.

Mauldin tied it at 25, but a Rivers' kill and a four-hit error by Mauldin propelled Rock Hill to a quarterfinals date with Hillcrest 3-1 winners over Northwestern on Tuesday.