Three close games added up to one big win for Camden as the Bulldogs defeated host Brookland-Cayce to advance to the Lower State finals of the Class 3A volleyball tournament Monday.
Camden pulled off a 3-0 (25-23, 26-24, 25-23) win despite trailing through much of the final game.
Camden coach Paige Wilson said she was encouraged by her team's level-headed play when facing a five-point deficit in the third game. The Bulldogs trailed 8-3 before they began their comeback, and a three-point run with Hannah Jackson serving pulled Camden even at 10-all.
Led by seniors Alley Greer, Ashlyn Hicks and Ashlan Diaz, the Bearcats battled back, refusing to let Camden get a foothold. Diaz served up a three-point run to open another Brookland-Cayce lead. Senior Alex White put up two kills in trying to protect the Bearcats' advantage.
But the Bulldogs again erased the Bearcats' advantage and took their first lead of the match, 18-17, with freshman Megan Speaks serving. The two teams tied at 19, 20 and 21 before Camden finally broke away.
"I was really pleased that they did not fall under pressure," Wilson said of her team, the Region 6 champions.
Already down two games, the Bearcats were in a must-win situation, and coach Elaine Remia tried to keep her team positive: "In a match like that, with two very evenly matched teams, in close games, it's going to come down to that mental game," she said.
"It was really hard, to try to keep emotion out of it," said Greer, who led the Bearcats with six kills and two blocks in the match.
Jackson served three consecutive points to push the Bulldogs to a 24-21 lead, before a sideout gave the Bearcats the chance to serve against match-point.
Brookland-Cayce was unable to force a fourth game, but Remia lauded her team's effort.
"For the most part, the girls played their best game," she said. "In the end there was no one set part that lost the match for us. There were little mistakes here and there that cost us."
In a match with many long points, the Bulldogs' biggest advantage was their ability to finish up front, where Anna Ford and Jessica Eckman combined for 13 blocks and 16 kills.
Camden will next travel to Bluffton on Wednesday for the semifinals.