When the conversations on the Hilton Head High bench turned to topics other than volleyball Tuesday, Seahawks coach Garret Talarczyk knew his team had mentally moved on from its first-round Class 3-A playoff match with Marlboro County.
It didn't take long for the Seahawks to make it official, sweeping the Bulldogs 25-4, 25-7, 25-9 to advance to a second-round matchup at home against St. James on Thursday.
"We were just taking it easy and relaxing," senior Judy Slow said. "Next week we definitely need to step it up and be serious, and not have side conversations on the court. We need to play with more aggression, because we weren't tonight at all."
To be fair, they rarely had the opportunity. The Bulldogs struggled to handle Hilton Head High's serves, which prevented the Seahawks from running their offensive sets for most of the match. Carter Julseth's serve proved especially hard to handle -- the sophomore racked up nine aces.
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As a result, Slow led the team with four kills despite sitting out the third game with a sore back.
"We didn't really get much action in," said senior setter Melissa Damas, who had 10 assists. "We probably could've run some more plays off some free balls and worked on some little technical stuff, but we kind of blew them out, so hopefully next week will be good."
To get to next week, the Region 7-AAA champion Seahawks first will have to get past St. James, the No. 2 seed from Region 8-AAA. Hilton Head High was hopeful for a rematch with Brookland-Cayce, which bounced it from the playoffs in the second round last year, but St. James swept the Bearcats on Tuesday.
The Seahawks are only one year removed from reaching the Class 3-A state championship match, and after last year's early exit, they're eager for another deep run in the playoffs -- even if their minds wandered a bit Tuesday.
"We're pumped up and ready for the playoffs," Talarczyk said. "We've been ready for the playoffs. The seniors are ready, and we're going to make a run at it this year. They're fired up."