High School Sports

Blazers fall in 4A volleyball playoffs

Volleyball: Fort Mill eliminates Ridge View in 4 sets in opening round of 4Astate playoffs (25-27, 25-20, 25-21, 25-14)

In the opening round of the 2009 4A State volleyball playoffs, the Ridge ViewBlazers (#3 seed from region 4-4A) were paired against the Fort Mill YellowJackets (#2 seed from region 3-4A), with the match being played at Fort Millon Tuesday, 10/27/09. These two teams were somewhat familiar with each other,after meeting in the opening round of the playoffs last season with the sameseeding matchup. In last yearƒs playoff contest, Fort Mill prevailed in 5close sets, eliminating Ridge View 20-25, 25-16, 25-22, 12-25, 12-15. TheBlazers entered this match with a 13-8 overall record, 5-5 in Region 4-4A,hoping to avenge last seasonƒs loss and advance to the 2nd round of theplayoffs.

Set 1 started slowly for the Blazers, as the Yellow Jackets built a quick 9-2lead, as Ridge View had uncharacteristic problems effectively returning serve.The Blazers were able to quickly turn things around however, as they ralliedto score 13 of the next 17 points to take a 15-13 lead in the set. TheBlazers maintained this 2-point margin, but with the score 20-18, Fort Millmade a late push, scoring 5 of the next 7 points to take a 23-22 lead. RidgeView maintained their composure, tying the score at 24. The Blazers thenscored 3 of the next 4 points to close out a very close and exciting openingset 27-25. Fort Mill was probably the best back-row defensive team that theBlazers faced all season, as they seemed to get their hands on almost everyBlazer attack. Ridge View had to remain persistent in Set 1, continuing toplay defense and reset the offense, in order to come out on top in the closefirst set.

Set 2 started close also with an early tie score at 10. Fort Mill was able tobuild a slight lead at 16-13, keeping the same margin at 22-19. The YellowJackets evened the sets at 1 apiece by scoring 3 of the last 4 points to winthe second set 25-20. In set 3, the Blazers were able to build a 2-point leadat 17-15, playing a power-game with some big hits from junior middleblocker/hitter Keyaira Stevenson and sophomore blocker/hitter Diara Lewis,avoiding the block and back-row defense of Fort Mill. Senior setter MeganWoodall moved the ball between the three primary hitter options of Stevenson(15 kills), Lewis (13 kills), and senior Hannah Cox (9 kills), in an effort tominimize the Fort Mill block. Fort Mill rallied late however, scoring 7 ofthe next 10 points to take a 22-20 lead, going on to win the go-ahead set25-21.

In the 4th set, after the Blazers got out to a 7-5 lead, the Yellow Jacketsmade a convincing run, scoring 13 of the next 16 points to take an 18-10 lead.The Blazers lost some steam, and were unable to close the gap on Fort Mill,as the Yellow Jackets won the final set 25-14. Fort Mill played excellentdefensive volleyball, covering the entire court, making a minimal number ofmistakes, and putting pressure on the Blazers with some quality serving.Ridge View had difficulty maintaining an offensive rhythm as the Fort Millserving and well-placed hitting helped create difficult return and passingsituations, leading to too many free-ball opportunities from the Blazers.Ridge View had a few chances to take control of the match with a lead in Set3, but struggled to regain the same high level of execution and intensity thatthey showed in their final Region match against Blythewood. In the end, thisshould be attributed to just a tenacious defensive effort from the Fort Millteam throughout the match.

For Ridge View, Keyaira Stevenson had a strong performance with a team-leading15 kills, 3 serve aces, and also contributing defensively with 15 digs and 4blocks. Setter Megan Woodall distributed 31 assists in the match, with 3serve aces and 3 kills, also playing solid defensively with 13 digs. DiaraLewis contributed 13 kills and 2 aces, adding 10 defensive digs and 2 soloblocks at the net. Outside hitter Hannah Cox put away 9 kills and 2 serveaces, also digging 13 Fort Mill attacks.

The opening round playoff loss drops Ridge Viewƒs overall record to 13-9 onthe season. Fort Mill advances to Round 2 on Thursday by hosting lastseasonƒs 4A state champions from Byrnes, who defeated TL Hanna in straightsets in their opening round.

Ridge View (13-9, 5-5) vs Fort Mill (10-4, 6-2) 1-3 (27-25, 20-25, 21-25,14-25)

Megan Woodall 31 Assists, 3 Kills, 13 Digs, 3 Aces.Diara Lewis 13 Kills, 10 Digs, 2 Aces, 3 Assists, 2 solo Blocks.Keyaira Stevenson 15 Kills, 15 Digs, 3 Aces, 1 Assist, 2 solo Blocks, 2 Blockassists.Hannah Cox 9 Kills, 13 Digs, 2 Aces, 3 Assists.Raven Ashe 15 Digs.Ronnisha Willis 2 Kills, 6 Digs, 1 Ace, 1 solo Block, 1 Block assist.Kendra Vaughn 2 Kills, 1 Dig, 1 Assist, 1 Block assist.Desiree Likely 1 Block solo.