For some reason, Gilbert got off to a sluggish start in Thursday's Class 2A Lower State volleyball championship match against visiting Chesnee.
Jackie Shealy's second-ranked Indians gave away far too many points via unforced errors on the way to a 25-20 loss before waking up and winning three games in a row to advance to Saturday's state championship rematch against Bishop England at White Knoll.
Gilbert (24-1) stung together 25-19, 25-15, 25-18 wins after the first-game stumble.
"We're going to have to play a lot sharper on Saturday than we did tonight," Indians coach Jackie Shealy said.
"We seemed to have communication breakdowns on the floor at times, and lose focus. That's something we just can't afford against a team like Bishop England. If we put together a consistent effort, we can compete with anybody. Maybe we just need to go out, stop thinking so much and play aggressively."
The Indians simply had too much firepower for the scrappy but overmatched Eagles.
Sophomore Whitney Strother and senior Sarah Eargle provided the scoring punch at the net, with senior setter Courtney Frye setting the table.
Strother finished with 21 kills and three blocks, while Eargle closed with 13 kills, two blocks and seven aces. Frye ended up with 34 assists and chipped in two kills. Junior Victoria Burkett had in seven kills.
Strother, who had a fine all-around match with two aces and one assist to augment her work at the net, was key to Gilbert's turnaround in the second game with seven kills and two blocks. But Eargle's back-to-back aces to open the second game provided the real spark.
"This year we're much better preparing (going into the state finale)," Frye said.
"We were a little nervous last year with it being our first time, but we know what to expect because we've been there before. I think we have a much better chance this time if we play the way we are capable of playing."