Keenan opened the Class 2A state volleyball playoffs with a leisurely 3-0 win against overmatched Batesburg-Leesville Monday at the Raiders Cove.
Gwen Wilcher’s defending Upper State champs overcame an error-filled performance in a 25-19 first-game win to blow away the Panthers 25-5 and 25-11 to complete the sweep and advance to a second round date on Wednesday against either Liberty or Palmetto.
“We've have a number of matches like this where we start out slow but then slowly get into it,” said Wicher, whose team improved to 17-8. “We’re still a relatively young team, so maybe it had something to do with this being the first playoff match for some of them. We were OK once we got past that.”
The first game was close only because of 15 unforced Raiders errors – missed serves, wayward hits and various violations. The saving grace early was Keenan’s potent serving game, which netted 10 aces in the first game. In all, the Raiders rang up 22 service winners against B-L’s shaky serve-receive defense.
“We teach our girls to be aggressive in the serving game, even though it’s a rally scoring game,” said Wilcher. “Some teams shy away from serving the ball hard because it might cost them a point, but we stress serving hard and well.”
Every Raider who went to the serving line had at least one ace. Rebekah Davis was tops were seven aces to go along with 17 assists and five kills in a solid all around performance. Senior all-state hitter Bianca Rouse whistled in five aces on booming jump serves and thoroughly intimidated the Panthers are the net with 13 lusty kills.
The finals stats underscored the mismatch. The Panthers, who finished with a 6-11 record, managed only three kills, one block and one ace in the match.
Alexis Flager (eight kills, two aces), Brandolyn Mack (one kills, three assists, three aces), Natalia Gathers (one kill, one assists, three aces) and Samone Jackson (two kills, four assists, four aces) were the other major Raiders contributors.