AIKEN — A relaxed Aiken squad cruised to another playoff win and pushed coach Malynda Young to a milestone in the process.
The Lady Hornets handled Blue Ridge over three consecutive sets to win 3-0 in the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs Tuesday night.
The victory was Young’s 500th at Aiken in her coaching career. The team surprised the coach after the match with a slideshow of photos from past seasons as she wiped away tears.
“It’s exciting for Aiken High,” Young said. “It’s a testament to all those girls in all those pictures that came through. We’ve had some good girls come through here. I’m proud of all of them.”
Aiken (34-9-1) will play host to the winner of Westwood and Greenville in the third round Thursday as the Lady Hornets continue their run toward a state title defense.
They took another step toward that goal by cruising Tuesday night with a relaxed but aggressive mindset that resulted in large margins of victory against No. 2 seed Blue Ridge (10-10). Passing and defense were steady throughout the match for the Lady Hornets.
Aiken dropped the first set to Richland Northeast in the first round last week, but the first set Tuesday was a different story. The Lady Hornets jumped to a 10-4 lead and held a 16-10 advantage before pulling away for a 25-13 set win.
The second set began in similar fashion with a 10-4 Aiken lead. A Blue Ridge timeout helped stop the momentum and the Lady Tigers crawled to within three at 20-17, but the Lady Hornets ended the set on a 5-0 run to win 25-17.
Aiken raced to a 7-1 lead in the third set and reached a lead as large as 24-5. Blue Ridge took the next eight points before Aiken prevailed 25-13 to clinch the match.
Zymbraya Corley led Aiken with 14 kills and added six digs and two blocks, while Lily McCabe posted 11 kills. Madie Jones recorded a team-high 18 digs.
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Class AAAA Playoffs
AIKEN DEF. BLUE RIDGE
25-13, 25-17, 25-13
Aces: Aiken-Payton Tyler 2, Lilly Anaclerio 2, Ashley Weaver, Livee Stringfield. Kills: Aiken-Zymbraya Corley 14, Lily McCabe 11, Nescotia Harrison 6, Destiny Mays 4, Tyler 4, Aubrey Crump, Abi Stewart, Lexi Floyd, Weaver. Blocks: Aiken-Corley 2, Mays 2, Tyler, Harrison, Weaver. Assists: Aiken-Tyler 16, Crump 16, Jones 4, Floyd 2, McKenna Herrmann 2, Corley. Digs: Aiken-Jones 18, Tyler 7, Stewart 7, Corley 6, Crump 5, Floyd 5, Sara Gregory 4, McCabe 4, Stringfield 3, Herrmann 3, Anaclerio 2, Harrison.
Records: Blue Ride 10-10, Aiken 34-9-1. Next: Westwood-Greenville winner at Aiken, 6 p.m., Thursday, third round of Class AAAA playoffs.