AIKEN — With each dig and well-placed swing, a business-like Aiken stayed in control.
By using generally mistake-free play, the Lady Hornets volleyball team cruised to a 3-0 sweep of West Ashley (25-12, 25-17, 25-18) Thursday night at home in the second round of the SCHSL Class AAAA state tournament. The Lady Hornets have won both state playoff matches in sweeps and will play at home again in the next round on Tuesday when they host South Aiken (a winner at Ft. Dorchester Thursday) as one of the final eight teams remaining in the tournament.
“They could have played down, but I told them to stay focused and in the game, and they did that,” Aiken coach Malynda Young said. “It seems like they’re able to, now, not play down to their opponent.”
The Lady Hornets provided pressure from all over, with Rachel Joyce getting five aces, Anna Tovo posting 19 kills and Emily Teelon charting 32 assists.
In the first set, Aiken used an 11-1 run to go in front safely at 14-4. Joyce got in three aces in a row during the spurt, as she wasn’t afraid to switch to a different spot on serves to keep West Ashley guessing.
In the second set, the Lady Hornets’ consistency led to a 9-2 surge in another victory. Courtney Law got three Aiken points in a row during Aiken’s play near the middle of the set.
In the final game, though, West Ashley got to within 19-15, Carly Bland used three solid swings on late kills before Tovo sealed the win and sent the Lady Hornets to the state quarterfinals.
Tovo could provide strong hits if needed, but she was strongest when she elected to use placement instead. On one play, Tovo quickly hit the ball behind the players as West Ashley crept up close to the net.
“Anna can find those spots,” Young said. “She can read the court. When she does that, they see it coming and there’s nothing they can do about it. It’s too late.”