Volleyball falls to Rock Hill in Playoffs

PLAYOFF RECORD:    1 WIN       1 LOSSES

PLAYOFF GAME RECORD: 3 WINS 3 LOSSES

SEASON RECORD:  23 WINS     8 LOSSES

REGION RECORD:    7 WINS      3 LOSSES

GAME RECORD:      62  WINS    29 LOSSES

In a testament to the strength of 4A Region 2 Volleyball, all 4 teams (Dorman, Mauldin, Hillcrest, and Byrnes) from the rugged S.E.C.-like upstate region advanced through the first round of playoff matches and into the "sweet sixteen". But before there would be a quarter-final rematch with a sister-region foe,  the #4 ranked Lady Maverick Varsity Volleyball team would have to travel to Rock Hill and face the Region 4 Champs, the state 6th ranked Rock Hill Bearcats - the team that eliminated Mauldin from the playoffs a year ago in the first round ! 

The Lady Mavs had every reason to enter the second round playoff match confident - with a 23-12 match record and having finished second in the toughest volleyball region in the state, they knew they were a better team than they were a year earlier when they lost a playoff match to the Lady Bearcats that they could have won.  But early in the first game of the match it was obvious that the team from Rock Hill high was better than they had been a year earlier too !  The Ebony and Ivory towers for the Bearcats showed the strength of their blocking defense as they nullified the Mauldin attack early and often, running out to an early 1-9 lead.  The Lady Mavs showed the effects of a long busride by committing too many forced and unforced errors.  Before long the Lady Mavs found themselves facing an 11 point deficit coming into the stretch 7-18, before Senior captain Rachel Woodlee and Senior Alex Evans found gaps in the Rock Hill block they exploited with Kills. The Ladies from Mauldin showed a lot of grit and pride late in the first frame when, down 9-21, Sophomore Libero Dana Landers went on an 8 point service run that included an Ace ... and was aided by Kills from Woodlee,  Senior co-captain Jordan Bowling, and Junior Hitter Jordan Stovall as well as blocks by Stovall and junior Middle Melissa Unger.  When service returned to the Bearcats, the Mauldin faithful began to see hope as the score deficit had been reduced to 17-22. Consistent serving from the Ladies in Black and Cardinal seemed to be a key for the Bearcats throughout the match. Game 1's stretch run would be no exception. With help from booming kills by the two Bearcat towers and a defense with only tiny holes in it, Rock Hill's netters closed the first game 19-25.

Feeling better about themselves after finishing a game strong that started ugly, the Lady Mavs started game 2 with a flourish as Senior setter Haley Register recorded successive Aces to open the scoring at 2-0.  Better defense and passing fueled the Mauldin attack as Landers recorded 6 of her team high 19 digs while Register and companion setter, Junior Kimberly Minor, pushed up 7 assist between them for kills by Bowling, Evans, and Sophomore Outside Hitter Heather Granger. Looking more like the team its fans had come to love, the Lady Mavs maintained the upper hand in game 2 into the stretch with a 20-17 lead after blocks of the Bearcat attack by Woodlee, Stovall, and Evans.  The stretch however proved to be a problem on this cool All Hallows Eve night.  Court coverage mixups and tight sets on the Mauldin side, coupled with a disciplined defense featuring a strong blocking by the Lady Bearcats, allowed the Ladies from Rock Hill to regain the momentum down the stretch as the Ladies in White and Orange let game two get away 24-26.

Game three would test the fortitude and resilience of the Mauldin Netters. Down 2 games and in a corner against a team Mauldin knew was not superior, the Lady Mavs could respond in any of several ways - the best of which would be by playing smarter against a tough opponent, eliminating errors and staying on the attack. Through most of game three, which featured several of the matches longest rallies, this seemed to be the exactly what Mauldin Coach Christy Plecha drew up and pulled out of her team. The third frame was a see-saw affair with neither team able to sustain scoring rallies but both teams playing exceedingly hard and well. Mauldin's Captain Rachel "the beast" Woodlee got hot again on offense and recorded 5 of her team high 10 kills in the third frame, and Junior Stovall added a pair of scoring spikes to pace the offense.  The attack was aided by both setters, but notably Register who had 8 of her team high 15 assists in the third game.  Senior defensive specialist Tiffany Smith helped Landers on defense with 3 digs, while Woodlee, Bowling, and Unger added blocks to try and thwart the Bearcat attack.  Heading into the stretch run, Mauldin held a 21-16 advantage.  After an exchange of a pair of points between evenly matched teams and "edge-of-your seat" textbook play, Mauldin looked to still be in command 23-18. But to the Rock Hill team's credit, they wouldnt fold either and played with equal determination while proving less error prone or pressure sensitive down the stretch again - they tied the Lady Mavs at 23, then 24, before taking a 24-25 advantage.  The Lady Mavs fought off two match points before falling 25-27.

It probably wont assuage the disappointment the Lady Mavs felt at the end of this match to know that whether elimination occurred tonight or next week or the following week, only one team gets to exit the state tournament feeling good about their finish.  It probably doesnt help much to know that the other three teams from this region (all of whom have suffered losses at the hands of these Lady Mavs) have advanced to the quarter-finals of the state tournament and its "Elite Eight"...again proving the strength of Region 2 Volleyball.  It will not likely set in until mid- November that this team, this season, accomplished some of the goals they set for themselves and in doing so, posted one of the very few 20 match win seasons and "sweet 16" playoff finishes in Mauldin High School volleyball history ! Could they have finished the state tournament bettter ?...Probably !  Did they "redefine the region" ? ...If not quite, they certainly shook it up considerably !  Will they be fitted for "Bling" next month ?...No, that rare privilege will likely be bestowed upon the Dorman Cavaliers (a team these Lady Mav Netters beat at home) in a couple of weeks.  Can they be proud of their season ?...ABSOLUTELY !!!

Congratulations to Coach Christy Plecha, Assistants Ashley Balough and Carly Plecha, and the Lady Maverick Volleyball Team for an OUTSTANDING SEASON ! We thank you for the joy and excitement that you provided over the past two months with your great attitudes, teamwork and outstanding play !  You may not be the region or state champs but you are STILL the PRETTIEST TEAM in the state - You do orange, white, and spandex proud !  To Rachel Woodlee, Jordan Bowling, Haley Register, Alex Evans, Tiffany Smith, and Morgan Gregg we especially thank you for the dedication, hard work, and many many hours of preparation you have put into this program over your high school careers - You have raised the bar for Mauldin Volleyball - you will be sorely missed and remembered fondly next season !!!  To Juniors
Jordan Stovall, Kimberly Minor, and Melissa Unger ... and to Sophomores Heather Granger and Dana Landers, we thank and congratulate you too, but can take solace in expectation that we will see you take the mantle of leadership from your senior sisters next year and continue the momentum of success, growth, and improvement in the volleyball program both on and off the court.  To Megan Archer and Kayla Whitten, we congratulate you on your fine JV season and promotion... and challenge you and your other JV teammates to keep up the good work in the off-season - you have many big shoes to fill on the Mauldin Varsity, but we know you are up to the challenge !  This writer knows and shares the feeling of "what might have been"... but upon further reflection, rejoices (and encourages others to do the same) in an inspiring coach, team, and an excellent season.  Like many others, I am sad to see this season end but look forward to the next season of Mauldin Volleyball ...because this one was so much fun and because there are still more giants to slay and goals to achieve ! 

SEASON STATS:


NAME        ACES  KILLS  ASSISTS BLOCKS  DIGS


> NAME        ACES  KILLS  ASSISTS  BLOCKS  DIGS
>
R. Woodlee      37       285         3           103         71

D. Landers        6         28          21          -           477

H. Register      17         1           370         -           85
 
K.Minor          28          5           330         -           77

J.Bowling       40        195         7           35          139

H. Granger     50         91          11          22          106

J. Stovall         4        116         25          44          70

A. Evans         2        123         8           40          34

T. Smith         2          7           3           -           98

M. Unger       7          39          2           32          23
M. Gregg      2           7           4           5           11

K. Whitten  -           -                9           -           4

M. Archer   -           -           -           -           - 
 

 


MAVS Website Reporter - Chuck Landers