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Aiken volleyball sweeps rival South Aiken in state quarterfinals

Aiken 3, South Aiken 0

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AIKEN — If she’s confronted with a block, she’ll attack it. If there’s an open spot on the floor, she’ll find it.

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Aiken's Rachel Joyce (left) spikes the ball against South Aiken's Lisa Herbold (center) and Haley Payne (right).  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Aiken's Rachel Joyce (left) spikes the ball against South Aiken's Lisa Herbold (center) and Haley Payne (right).

TEAM PAGE: Aiken Hornets

Through instinct, experience and countless drills, Aiken’s Anna Tovo has tried to perfect her hitting placement.

She was at her best Tuesday night as she lifted the Lady Hornets to a 3-0 sweep (25-17,
25-16, 25-14) of rival South Aiken in a Class AAAA state quarterfinal in a packed Aiken gym. The win gives Aiken a spot in the Lower State final, which will be played Thursday on the road.

“I try and see the block and where all the players are, and see if I can place it somewhere where there’s no one,” Tovo sad. “If I can’t see, I just hope for the best.”

The senior had 14 kills and hit .700 in the first set as Aiken rallied from a 9-5 deficit that was earned in part by South Aiken senior Bailey Parker.

But Tovo mixed up her hitting to help win the set. On consecutive points, Tovo first used great touch to hit an unguarded spot on the floor before she went to a power swing for another point.

Tovo’s current high efficiency came in part from work Aiken coach Malynda Young saw in practice.

“I do remember her freshman year, working one specific practice, getting her to see holes,” Young said. “She kept saying, ‘I can’t do that.’ I said, ‘You just did it three times in a row.’ She’s grown up so much. A lot of club coaches have helped out.”

Tovo finished Tuesday’s match with 27 kills, which made up half of the Lady Hornets’ total. The other 27 kills were sprinkled throughout the roster.

Emily Teelon smartly used quick tips or hits to surprise South Aiken’s defense at crucial moments during the second set. Carly Bland also had important points as she and Teelon combined for 17 kills in the sweep.

The final set was a breeze, with the Lady Hornets’ lead reaching 10-4, 17-8 and 24-12.
The loss eliminated South Aiken, which won on the road in the first two rounds as a No. 4 seed.

“We told the girls coming in, ‘Let’s just go play and have fun. We’ve already met our goals. Let’s give it our all,’ ” South Aiken coach Laurie Ulmer said. “I thought we played great the first two games and we gave it a good fight.”

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