'Cats complete volleyball sweep of HHH

Bluffton pulls away late for 4th win of season over Seahawks

mmccombs@islandpacket.comOctober 16, 2012 

The third set didn't do the whole match justice. In fact, it was downright out of place.

Bluffton jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the third set on the way to a 25-13 win and a 3-0 sweep to spoil rival Hilton Head Island High's Senior Night in Monday volleyball action.

"In the nine years I've been here at Bluffton, that's the only one-sided match I can remember," said Bobcats coach Al Stern, whose team swept four matches from the Seahawks this season. "And it's unusual for one team to win every match against the other."

The first two sets could have gone either way. Neither team led by more than three points, and there were no extended runs for either side.

The first game was a back-and-forth affair that was tied at 25- and 26-all before the Bobcats (35-8-2) pulled it out, 28-26. But the Seahawks (21-9) led for the majority of the second set. Bluffton finally drew even at 15 for the first tie, and took its first lead at 17-16.

"It was close the first two games. We just made some errors. We were giving points away," Hilton Head High coach Garret Talarczyk said. "(We) honestly didn't play well. We blew two leads in the first two games. But we'll move on. It's just another game for us. It doesn't count for the region."

The second set saw the teams trade points, tying the score at 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 apiece before the Seahawks thought they took the lead, 23-22. But Sierra Davis was called for going over the top of the net and the point was reversed for a Bluffton lead.

Little did anyone know, that would be the first of 17 straight Bluffton points.

After the Bobcats scored the next two to win the set, 25-22, and take a 2-0 lead, they blasted to an insurmountable 14-0 lead in the third set, highlighted by 14-for-14 serving by eighth-grader Madison Cooler and three big blocks by senior Abby Roulston.

"She played well," Stern said of Roulston. "Her blocking, when she's blocking well, it's outstanding."

Brantley Herrington ended the run for Hilton Head HIgh with a kill to make it 14-1, and the Seahawks began to claw their way back into it behind big hits from Davis, Hannah Edelmann and some Bluffton miscommunication.

But the Bobcats stuck together and got two kills, an ace and a block from Mackenzie Cooler down the stretch before Jordan Franklin ended the match with an underhanded hit that found the net, spun up and over the top and fell between three Seahawks to seal the set, 25-13, and the match.

Franklin ended the night with 11 kills, 10 assists and was good on 19 of 19 serves for Bluffton. Mackenzie Cooler had 13 kills and 10 assist, while Roulston had five kills added three kill blocks.

For Hilton Head High, Herrington had 10 kills and six blocks, Davis recorded nine kills, Edelmann tallied 11 kills and Renee Homad had 28 assists.

Both teams have already clinched their region titles are gearing up for the playoffs.

"This win gives us a lot of confidence," Stern said. "We gained a bunch this weekend at the Wando tournament, but to play a really good team like Hilton Head right after the tournament is really good. Had we played a lesser team, it wouldn't have meant as much."

The Bobcats host two matches this evening against Ashley Ridge and Hilton Head Prep to wrap up their regular season. They will host a Class 4-A playoff match Tuesday, Oct. 23 and would have home-court advantage through the quarterfinals.

The Seahawks, whose regular season is completed, host Midland Valley at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, and would host through the Class 3-A semifinals.

"We'll move on and focus on the playoffs," Talarczyk said. "This match prepares us to face good ball clubs. Bluffton is a good ball club, and we're going to see some clubs like that in the playoffs. They're a strong team. You've got to give them credit."

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