Carolina Castillo prepares to handle a Brevard serve as teammates Kristen Hall, left, and Grace Lauer watch

Brevard scored 111 total points Wednesday. Polk County scored 110.

And the showdown between two of Western North Carolina’s top volleyball teams felt even closer than that.

The Blue Devils eked out a 3-2 win over the Wolverines in a non-conference clash that felt more like a playoff game, given the level of play, intensity and the large crowd.

Brevard’s 22-25, 25-23, 26-24, 23-25, 15-13 victory even drew an unexpected spectator – Polk County head coach Molly Hill, who interrupted maternity leave to attend with newborn son Kolt Camden.

By night’s end the Blue Devils (14-4) had completed a season sweep of the Wolverines (10-3). But the manner of the loss gave interim head coach Jon Ezell reason to crack at least a hint of a smile.

“We got a lot better from the last time we played them,” Ezell said. “They gave us another set of things to work on tonight.

“We played courageously. I like the direction in which we’re heading.”

Polk County’s Mireya Roman elevates for a swing during the first set of Wednesday’s match

The first set proved the only one not decided by the minimum two points. Polk County trailed 8-4 early and 20-16 late before reeling off six straight points, capped by a Mireya Roman kill. Two Grace Lauer kills brought about set point, and a Brevard error gave Polk an early 1-0 lead.

But falling behind early in the set proved a trend for Polk. The Wolverines trailed 15-5 in the second set and 5-0 in the third, fighting back each time to nearly win both but falling behind 2-1 before forcing the deciding fifth set.

Brevard, led by Appalachian State commitment Madison Baldridge, kept the pressure on Polk with its explosive offense, and Ezell was pleased with how the Wolverines responded.

“Our passing was significantly better,” he said. “We also handled our responsibilites on defense significantly better. That’s probably the best effort we’ve had all season.

“When our offense clicked, it negated their offense. When we gave them free balls, their offense was hard to stop.”

Polk County returns to the court on Thursday, hosting Mitchell in a Western Highlands Conference match. No word on whether Hill will slip in for that one.

“It was good to have Molly back in the building,” Ezell said. “She’s like a school mom to these kids and is a significant part of their lives. It was good to see her happy and healthy.”

Polk County head volleyball coach Molly Hill and newborn son Kolt Camden watched Wednesday’s match with interest.

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