When they took Game 2 to even the match at 1, smiles were on the faces of the Myrtle Beach players, and there was excitement in their steps and in their swings.
By the time Hilton Head Island put Game 4 away for a 3-1 win, those steps and swings had slowed and the smiles were replaced by fatigue.
Hilton Head won the battle of the Seahawks in the Class 3-A Lower State Championship, 25-16, 17-25, 25-18, 25-19, on Tuesday night at Hilton Head Island High School.
The win puts Hilton Head in Saturday's 4 p.m. state final against Eastside, a 3-1 winner over two-time defending champion Pickens. The match will be played at White Knoll High School in Columbia.
"I think maybe in the fourth they were kind of tiring out," Hilton Head Island head coach Garrett Talarczyk said. "They started missing some serves, and we started to pull away. We had some great defensive ups that they weren't expecting. The momentum kind of shifted toward us."
Like Talarczyk, junior outside hitter Da'nesha Miller said she thought the match would go five games.
"We preach 17 seconds, 17 seconds you've got to give it your all, whatever it takes to get the ball over the net and to hit the ground," Miller said. "We're well conditioned and we could tell they started to get tired in the fourth. And we were up and just staying positive, whatever it would take.
"We gave it all we could and came out with a victory."
Miller finished the match with eight kills and a stellar 53 percent kill percentage.
Senior Hannah Edelman had 21 kills and 21 digs, while Sydney Jansen had 14 kills and 19 digs. Lexie Standen tallied 42 assists, and Alexxis Andreas had 17 digs.
"It was cool to see," Edelman said. "On the court, yeah, we're tired, but if you looked, between the two teams, we were definitely the better conditioned team and that's so important when it comes down to it."
This is the fourth trip to the state final for Hilton Head Island in the past eight years. The Seahawks have fallen to Nation Ford (2010) and Pickens twice (2008, 2014).
"We've just got to play with the same mental attitude we had tonight," Talarczyk said.