Leading by two sets but down by three points late in the third, the Westside volleyball team needed to regroup.
So it relied on its experience from practice, when the Lady Patriots sometimes go through situations where they need a strong closing run to win a set.
Westside recalled those drills to relax, make their passes more precise and improve the hitting to finish a 3-0 sweep of Rabun County (25-13, 25-21, 25-23) in the second round of the Class AA State Volleyball Tournament on Tuesday night.
With the win, the Lady Patriots are one of the last six teams remaining.
“This is incredible for us,” Westside coach Brian Hadden said. “We had never won a first-round game here, let alone a second-round game.”
Following wins in each of the first two sets, Westside appeared to be rolling in the third up 12-6, but the Lady Wildcats took advantage of shaky play to take a 22-19 lead.
They went on 4-0 spurts twice in the set.
However, after the timeout, solid Westside hits put Rabun County in tough attacking spots. Callie Huggins finished off the match with a kill.
Earlier, Westside, 15-11 and the No. 1 team from Region 3-AA, used a powerful service game to jump ahead in the opening set.
Huggins was the strongest server, knocking down four aces in a seven-point span that made it 9-1.
Westside ultimately cruised to the 12-point win and then took control in the second set after falling behind 8-6.
The Lady Patriots’ Kendra Broadbent bookended Rabun County’s four-point run with two clutch kills.
The first landed perfectly in the corner and the second closed a long rally and cut the Lady Wildats’ lead to 8-7.
Aces by Kendall Williams helped Westside gain the advantage, which swelled to as much as seven points at 20-13.
Rabun County (16-18) did feed Sally Woerner the ball during a comeback bid, but a collection of kills secured the win.
As a sign of what was ahead in the third set, Huggins completed the second set with a kill.
“It means a lot,” Westside’s Christina Thomas said. “Not only for myself, but for all women’s sports at this school.”