The Nation Ford volleyball revenge tour continued as the Falcons got revenge for an early loss this season against T.L. Hanna Yellow Jackets with a sweep to claim the 5A Upper State championship Tuesday evening.
Nation Ford won 3-0 (25-23, 27-25, 25-21) to set up a 5A state championship match against the Wando Warriors 7 p.m. Saturday at White Knoll High.
The Yellow Jackets and Nation Ford (43-7-1) had squared off twice earlier this season, with each team winning a match. The Falcons had lost to them in a tournament in Georgia, but then beat them in a tournament at Wando. The Election Day rubber match sent Nation Ford to the state finals.
“I knew it was possible for us to go 3-0 if we stayed mentally tough,” said Nation Ford head coach Carrie Christian. “Our girls stuck with the game plan and didn’t let the environment get to them.”
Nation Ford struggled at times, but also rallied when it had to. In the first set, the Falcons went up 8-4, but T.L. Hanna would score five straight points to take a 9-8 lead. The Yellow Jackets would then push ahead and go up 18-12, before Nation Ford clawed its way back into the set by scoring eight of the next nine points and eventually going up 22-20 before a T.L. Hanna timeout.
T.L. Hanna tied the score at 22, but Nation Ford showed its resilience by scoring three of the next four points to take a 25-23 first set victory.
The Falcons went ahead 11-8 in the second set, but the Yellow Jackets tied the score at 13. From there, Nation Ford would regain the lead, but T.L. Hanna, spurred on by a raucous home crowd fought its way back into the match to tie the set at 23. Nation Ford grabbed the lead, but the Yellow Jackets kept pace until the Falcons scored two final points to get the second set win 27-25.
The Falcons even got down by as many as five points (13-8) in the third set, but rallied after a timeout to score eight of the next 11 points and tie the match at 16. The Falcons crept ahead and the two schools battled back and forth, but Nation Ford would finally get the 19-17 lead and score six of the next 10 points for the 25-21 win.
Nation Ford is just three sets wins away from its second state title in the sport. The Falcons won their first state title back in 2010, but knows Wando will be a tough match. The Falcons lost to Wando earlier in the season, part of a tournament at Dorman.
“They are a very good team,” Christian said. “But we are a lot better than we were then too. We are prepared. We are excited to see them.”
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @MacBanksFM