Late flurry spoils Polk County’s title hopes in regional final setback

Polk County senior Reagan Waddell prepares to blast one of 16 kills during Tuesday's match.

DAVIDSON – In a match full of big points and big plays, a quiet run of eight points may well have been enough to earn Community School of Davidson a second straight trip to the state 1A volleyball championships.

And deny Polk County a shot at its first.

The defending state champions subtly seized control of the match during that crucial third-set stretch, pushing the Spartans to a 3-1 victory in the 1A West Regional final in Davidson.

The 20-25, 26-24, 25-19, 25-16 win will give CSD (21-1) a chance to repeat as 1A state champions when they face Roxboro Community School in Saturday’s state championship match on the Norrh Carolina State University campus in Raleigh.

Polk County, meanwhile, saw the most successful season in school history end with a 23-4 record, one game short of where the Wolverines most wanted to be.

“In the first set we were so high with so much energy, and then we leveled out,” said Polk County head coach Molly Hill. “It was hard for us to get back up and get our energy up.

“They’re a good team, but it was definitely doable. We just waited too long to have those little spurts of energy. We waited too long to make our move.”

Polk County more than held its own on the road, winning the first set and narrowly losing the second before the match, largely equal to that point, tilted in the Spartans’ favor midway through the third.

Close early, the Wolverines inched ahead 11-8 on a kill by Mireya Roman and a Marissa Twitty tip. But CSD, behind the serving of Liza Mitchell, reeled off those eight straight points to take a 16-11 edge, bringing the loud home crowd back into the match.

Relying on the hitting of Reagan Waddell and Grace Lauer, Polk County fought back within 18-17, but the Spartans scored the next six points and closed out the set at 25-16 to take a 2-1 lead.

CSD then opened the fourth set with a 10-3 run and never led by less than seven points the rest of the way.

“They’re a big team,” Hill said. “They made some adjustments and we tried to work against those and couldn’t.”

The Wolverines pulled out to an early lead in the first set and built a 16-9 advantage before CSD took a timeout. The Spartans came out of that break and rallied to tie the match at 17, and the score stood at 19-19 when a Waddell kill, a block by Lauer and Waddell and a Lauer kill gave Polk a 22-19 lead. Another Waddell kill pushed the lead to 24-20, and a CSD error ended the set.

Polk raced to a 5-0 lead to open the second set and kept the lead until CSD tied it at 13-13. The teams then swapped points throughout the rest of the set, with a Lauer kill fighting off a CSD game point, making the score 24-24 and giving Polk the serve.

But CSD claimed the final two crucial points of the set to even the match at 1-1.

Waddell had 16 kills, 28 digs and three blocks for Polk County, with Lauren Ketwitz adding 14 assists and 11 digs and Kendall Hall finishing with 29 digs. Those three seniors played their final game for the Wolverines.

“I’m so proud of Kendall Hall,” Hill said. “She played her butt off. She worked the back row and didn’t want anything to hit the floor and she didn’t let much do so.”

Kristen Hall had 17 digs, seven kills and 13 assists for Polk, with Ansley Lynch posting seven blocks and 24 digs. Lauer had 10 kills and three blocks, Roman had three blocks and Sydney Waldman had nine assists.