AIKEN — Giving itself another chance to defeat Aiken, North Augusta’s volleyball team had hopes of an upset but instead was beaten again by the Hornets’ fast-paced attack.
Aiken didn’t trail during any set as the Hornets swept North Augusta, 3-0 (25-12, 25-14, 25-15), Tuesday night in the quarterfinals of the Class AAAA state playoffs. It was Aiken’s third victory against the Yellow Jackets this season.
The Hornets (39-2) used their typically strong defense and passing to transition to their efficient offense, and that ability led to huge early leads in both the first and second sets, with Jenni Law often starring.
“Our defense was spot-on tonight,” said Law, adding when everything comes together, “We have the opportunity to do whatever we want.”
Aiken’s Natasha Dicks led with 12 kills, and four other Hornets had at least four, including Law with eight.
Law started the match with a kill as the Hornets got out to a 4-0 advantage. She then helped the block record two points in a row and won a point at the net before smacking down two kills to make it 22-8. Law finished with seven blocks.
“Jenni has really progressed in the second half of the season,” said Aiken coach Malynda Young.
In the second set, more good placement compounded the Yellow Jackets’ offensive struggles as Aiken sprinted to another promising start at 13-4.
The Hornets’ McKenna Dyer had three aces in a row before one of her three kills pushed the ballooning lead to 23-8.
North Augusta (17-10) scored five consecutive points – it had a similar run in the opening set by running off four in a row – but a Dyer kill on an overpass followed by a Dicks kill ended the set.
The final set was a little closer early on, with North Augusta’s Gracie Bryant and Sydney Wilson posting kills during an 8-7 beginning for Aiken. However, Anna Tovo had two of Aiken’s next four points on a kill and an ace before Tyler Smith scored two kills close together for a 19-11 Hornets lead.
Although the Yellow Jackets didn’t threaten Aiken’s chances of advancing, North Augusta coach Lindsay Tucker said she saw some positives, especially considering few expected her team, a fourth seed, to make it as far as it did.
“We really thought we would,” Tucker said about taking a set or pushing Aiken. “Some of the things we practiced, we didn’t follow through.”