Recover and advance.
Such is how Polk County’s volleyball team is approaching the state 2A playoffs, and the plan worked Saturday, the Wolverines taking a 3-0 win over Anson in a first-round matchup at Polk.
Polk County (22-3) advances to a second-round match Tuesday at Pine Lake Prep (16-6). The Pride shared the regular-season title in the Catawba Shores Athletic 1A/2A Conference and opened their playoff run on Saturday with a 3-0 win over Morehead. Start time for Tuesday’s match is to be determined.
The Wolverines have battled illness for much of the past two weeks, but finally had their full roster available Saturday. Though not yet completely in good health, Polk still dispatched Anson 25-17, 25-14, 25-18.
Moving on in the postseason was the focus of the day, but the late-afternoon match also served as a chance for Polk’s players to work on the timing and chemistry that helped them reel off 18 consecutive wins in the regular season.
“I was telling my mom before the game started that I haven’t had a practice with my whole team in a week and a half,” said Polk County head coach Molly Hil. “So it was a little tricky. You could tell that some of them were weak and getting their strength back.
“We’re not 100 percent yet, but we’re back, and I told them to take the next day and a half and finish recovering and let’s get back to 100 percent and get ready for Tuesday.”
The Bearcats (18-6) kept the first set close, with junior hitter Lauren Dutton finding some early success hitting outside. But Polk inched ahead 12-10, then had a run of eight straight points on Ella Waldman’s serve, with the Wolverines getting successful attacks from Morgan Yoder, Ada Kelley, Mia Bradley, almost everyone.
Yoder then unleashed a dominant serve in the second set. She had five aces in an opening spell that gave the Wolverines a 10-4 lead. Anson inched back to within 17-13 before three more Yoder aces sparked a 6-0 run that gave Polk a 23-13 lead. The Bearcats finally broke Yoder’s serve, but an Elysia Smith kill gave the Wolverines set point, and Zaelea Eller served an ace to close it.
The Wolverines then raced to an 8-1 lead to open the final set and never trailed, with Anson getting no closer than two points at any moment in the set.
Yoder finished with 12 aces and seven kills, with Ada Kelley recording five kills. Elena Carroll, Bradley and Sophia Overholt each had four kills, with Overholt recording nine digs.
Amberlyn Scruggs had 13 assists, with Eller adding 10, while Waldman had a team-high 18 digs.
The Wolverines will now hit the road to face a Pine Lake squad led by senior outside hitter Mary Newman and a talented group of freshmen.
“I think they’re excited about (going on the road),” Hill said. “I think once we can get into the right headspace and really focus and not worry about what medicine I need to take this hour, we can start to focus on that.
“I told them we’ll leave early and hopefully get a nice meal in them before we play and just take care of ourselves.”