AIKEN — Aiken executed the game plan to near perfection Thursday night and is again knocking on the state title match door.
The Lady Hornets again cruised past their latest playoff opponent by beating Westwood 3-0 to advance to the Class AAAA Upper State finals.
They’ll travel to Pickens for the semifinal match Tuesday. The trip will mark their fourth semifinal appearance since winning the state championship in 2012, including last year’s 3-1 win over Pickens on their way to the Class AAAA state title.
“Every game is a gift,” Aiken coach Malynda Young said. “It’s exciting. Hopefully we can get rested, get a good practice in Monday and go again Tuesday.”
Aiken worked during Wednesday’s practice on exploiting Westwood’s weak spots and it showed Thursday night. Lady Hornets hitters continually found holes in different locations to prevent the Lady Redhawks from gaining any ground throughout the match.
“That’s what we did almost the entire practice yesterday was working on the weak spots,” Young said. “I was really pleased with them. I thought they did a good job of that.”
After cruising to a 25-11 win in the first set, Aiken (35-9-1) battled with Westwood (19-11) more in the second, including an 8-2 run for the Lady Redhawks that gave them a 14-12 advantage.
The Lady Hornets stormed back for an 18-15 lead to force Westwood into a timeout, but the brief stoppage didn’t halt the momentum as Aiken finished the set on a 10-2 run to win 25-17 and claim a 2-0 match lead.
Westwood again battled in the third set and got as close as 22-20. Aiken got to 24-20 before Westwood crawled back to within one, but the Lady Hornets shut the door to win 25-23 and seal the match.
Zymbraya Corley posted a team-high 12 kills, while Payton Tyler and Abi Stewart each had seven.
Tyler added a team-high 23 digs and 16 assists, and Madie Jones chipped in 19 digs.
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.