Be-Deviled, again, but just barely.
Brevard again got the better of Polk County, outlasting the Wolverines Thursday in a thrilling five-set affair before a packed house in Polk County’s gym.
The 25-17, 22-25, 25-15, 19-25, 15-8 affair was loud, it was emotional, it was two teams that know each other well trading kills and shouts and points for some two hours before a finish that secured the Mountain Foothills 7 Conference regular-season championship for Brevard.
It may also have been exactly what the Wolverines needed with the 1A playoffs looming.
Thursday’s performance looked nothing like Polk County’s 3-1 loss earlier this season at Brevard. The Wolverines played at a higher level, but they also played with a drive and passion unlike any match thus far this season.
To a girl, Polk County WANTED a win. That hunger and sense of togetheness should serve them well as the postseason begins.
“I told them in the locker room to hold their heads high,” said Polk County head coach Molly Hill. “They made so much improvement from the last time that we played them and they got so much better.
“These are the games that are fun. These are the games that are making us better and these are the games that are what it’s going to be like (in the playoffs). I definitely think that this puts our foot in the door a little bit for what’s to come.”
The teams swapped the first two sets, with Polk (20-2, 8-2) then pulling ahead 11-9 in the third set after trailing 6-2. That rally led to a Brevard timeout during which head coach Cori Bryson delivered a passionate and pointed lecture to her team.
The message must have been received, as the Blue Devils (24-2, 10-0) scored the next seven points and closed the set with a 14-4 run to take a 2-1 lead.
But Polk County neither panicked or lost its enthusiasm. A Sophia Overholt kill tied the fourth set at 14-14 and started a Wolverine surge that featured two Overholt kills, kills from Mia Bradley and Kylie Lewis and a Lewis/Overholt block that had both shouting with delight. That flurry made it 21-15, and Polk closed the set minutes later on an emphatic Bradley kill to force the deciding fifth set.
Brevard senior middle hitter Meleah Foster tormented Polk in the teams’ first meeting and certainly challenged the Wolverines again in the rematch. But in the fifth set, it was senior outside hitter Ella Scott that sparked the Blue Devils.
Scott delivered three straight kills from the left side to give Brevard a 5-2 advantage. Polk kept the deficit at three points until two more Scott kills helped the Devils grab an 11-6 lead.
A Lewis tip made it 11-7, and Polk thought it had won a point to make it 11-8. But the head official overruled an out-of-bounds call on that point, giving the point to Brevard, and the Blue Devils closed the match perhaps appropriately with kills by Foster and Scott.
Heads, though, were not hanging in the Polk locker room.
“To see the way they played and the momentum and how they worked together and just having fun and battling, it made me excited for what’s to come,” Hill said.
“It didn’t go our way, but we know we may see them again (in next week’s conference tournament) and we’re just going to keep getting better and keep preparing.”