LITTLE RIVER -- On paper, North Myrtle Beach was doomed in Monday night's third-round playoff match against Hilton Head Island. On the court however, it was a different story.
The Chiefs defeated a highly touted Seahawks team featuring three all-Region 8-AAA players 3-0 (25-16, 25-23, 25-13) to advance to the Lower State final.
"I think tonight when I say the breakdowns and the up-and-down swings, we showed why we're going to be playing hard to play on Saturday again," said Chiefs coach Erica Allman, referring to the state championship match, where North Myrtle Beach would land with a win Wednesday against Airport at home.
"I think they showed it tonight. Everybody played a solid game all around. Of course we had errors here and there, but with this crowd, and our momentum, it just sent us way over the edge. I'm still [thrilled]."
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Against a taller, intimidating Hilton Head team, a packed North Myrtle Beach gym gave the Chiefs an added advantage.
"Every point was something to cheer about," Allman said. "Volleyball is a huge game of momentum."
The teams matched point-for-point in a tension-filled, back-and-forth first game. Tied at nine, North Myrtle Beach broke out to 19 for a big lead. Hilton Head fought to stay in it, but the Chiefs' net defense remained strong to seal the Game 1 win.
Game 2 kicked off in similar form, with the score close throughout the bulk of the game. The Seahawks began to pull away late in the game with a four-point lead before North Myrtle Beach rallied back to tie the game at 22 and went on for a two-point win.
"Well, we knew they were big," Allman said. "We knew a little bit about their structure, so we kind of set up to really try to take their big hitters out. We practiced as if they were the best team we were ever going to face; they're not going to have any let-ups, they're not going to have any slip-ups, they're going to come out guns blazing, and I knew that they swung on every hit. They're always aggressive, I knew that coming in, so we were on our toes."
Hilton Head Island jumped out to an early lead in Game 3, but the Chiefs rushed right back and quickly took charge with a nine-point lead and maintained control. The Seahawks led an inspired performance to come back, but the Chiefs sent them home on a botched serve.