Polk Middle earns return trip to conference championship match

Polk County's Marissa Twitty and the rest of the Wolverines will play Monday for a conference title.

Polk County Middle’s volleyball squad is going back to the Blue Ridge Middle School Conference championship match.

The Wolverines went on the road Wednesday and knocked off Macon Middle, the top seed in the West Division, in a 2-1 thriller, pulling out a 25-22, 20-25, 25-16 victory in the BRMSC tournament semifinals.

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The win gives the defending champions a return trip to the championship match, and the news got even better for Polk Middle after the win when the Wolverines found out that fifth-seeded Flat Rock upset the East Division champions, Rugby, in the other semifinal. That means Polk Middle (11-3) will host Flat Rock (9-4) on Monday at 4:30 p.m. in its quest for back-to-back conference titles and the program’s third championship in four years.

“Coach (Donna) Hall and I are so proud of this bunch and can’t wait to hit the court for two more days of practice this week in preparation for Monday’s championship match against Flat Rock,” said Polk Middle head coach Matthew Russell.

Four Kristen Hall kills helped spark Polk to a 7-1 lead in the opening set. Macon rallied to within a point, but Marilyn Castillo served five straight points, then teamed with Marissa Twitty for four late kills to close out the first set.

The Wolverines pulled out to a 16-10 lead in the second set, but Macon (10-3) fought back and used a late 7-0 run to force the deciding third set.

“At this point, the packed house at Macon was raucous and chanting between sets,” Russell said. “We brought the girls into the huddle and told them that the second set was over. We reminded them that a win today meant a trip to the championship. We’ve shed blood, sweat, and tears since the first day of August trying to get back to that title game. The goal this year is a title. This third set is about who wants it more.”

Emmie McDowell served Polk Middle to an early 5-1 lead in the third set, but Macon rallied for a 10-9 advantage. A Hall kill stopped the rally, and the Wolverines put together a 10-3 run to stop Macon’s momentum. Another Hall kill and a couple of McDowell aces, along with solid back-row play from Scout Harmon, Rollins Carter and McDowell, helped clinch the win.

And now it’s on to the championship match for the Wolverines in their quest to hang another conference title banner.

“We’d like to invite all members of the community to come out and support us for the big game as we’d really like to pack the seats and lean on the home court advantage,” Russell said.