High School Sports

Bluffton defeats Hilton Head High, wraps up perfect region record

Days before Bluffton High School began its season, the volleyball team mapped out three goals the players agreed would together make a successful season: Win a region championship, win a Lower State title and hang a state championship banner in the gymnasium.

One down, two to go.

The Bobcats completed an undefeated Region 7-AAA season with a sweep of Hilton Head High (25-22, 25-13) on Tuesday night.

The Bobcats also swept Hilton Head Prep (25-18, 25-20) as part of a tri-match at Bluffton, and the Seahawks took down Prep in three games (25-19, 16-25, 25-19) to open the night. All three teams were playing in their final match before their respective postseasons begin.

But the focus for the Bobcats was Tuesday's final victory against the Seahawks, which concluded a 10-0 region mark.

"This is the match we've been thinking about all year," said Abby Roulston, who had 10 kills and six blocks. "Now that we have it, we can start thinking about state."

The Bobcats will take the league's top seed into the Class 3-A playoffs, which begin Monday. They have earned the right to host the first two rounds. The Seahawks, the defending Class 3-A Lower State champions, also will host a first-round playoff game after finishing 8-2 in the region, with both losses coming against the Bobcats.

Hilton Head High had a small window opportunity to change things Tuesday night -- once holding a 21-20 lead in the opener -- but the Bobcats slammed the window shut behind a pair of blocks from Roulston and a game-winning kill from Mackenzie Cooler, one of a team-high 17 kills from the sophomore.

Sierra Davis had 14 kills for the Seahawks, while Elaine Natoli dished out 40 assists.

"We looked the best we've looked all year in that first game," Seahawks coach Garret Talarczyk said. "In the second game, we got down, and sometimes when we get down, we tend to fall apart. I think that's the product of a young team."

Hilton Head Prep, a non-region opponent for both the Bobcats and Seahawks, used the night as a final tune-up for the SCISAA playoffs, a double-elimination tournament starting Thursday in Sumter.

The Dolphins tried out various lineups and rotations in both matches -- even using star hitter Liz Buterbaugh as a libero in the opening match against Hilton Head High -- to see what will work best later this week. Buterbaugh still led the team with eight kills.

"We're looking at this as a way to practice against two very good teams for our state tournament," Dolphins coach Reed Goldsmith said. "And I like what I saw. The girls did fine. I think we're ready for the playoffs."