Addie Lynch slammed a fourth-set kill down the line Wednesday night that brought Polk County’s crowd to its feet and a smile to the face of head coach Molly Hill.
She’d been waiting all night to see such a shot.
Relying heavily on its defense, Polk County made West Stokes’ long bus ride end with a short stay in the state 2A playoffs, handing the Wildcats a 3-1 defeat in an opening-round match at Polk.
Next up for the Wolverines (18-6), the eighth seed in the West subregion, will be a lengthy journey of their own as Polk County travels Thursday to face undefeated Wheatmore (24-0) at 6 p.m. State finalists a year ago, the Warriors, seeded first in the Midwest subregion, easily defeated Bandys in their first-round match on Wednesday.
Polk won the first two sets Wednesday night, 25-18, 25-18, before West Stokes (17-9) rallied for a 25-22 win in the third set. The Wolverines then closed out the match with a 25-19 margin in the fourth set, a set in which Hill finally began seeing the type of offensive effort she wanted and the type the Wolverines will need Thursday night.
“We were consistent on defense and serve receive all night,” Hill said. “Our struggle was our aggressiveness in the front row.
“We definitely picked it up between the third and fourth sets. We lost some of our focus in the third set. I told them before the fourth set that it was time to change our mentality, to go out and get it done in that set. And they did that.”
The Wolverines led throughout the early stages of the fourth set before West Stokes rallied midway through, cutting a five-point deficit to 14-12. Polk edged back ahead by five on a Reagan Waddell ace, then followed a West Stokes timeout with a run that included Lynch’s big kill, followed by a huge block by Lynch and Mireya Roman, for a 20-13 lead. West Stokes pulled back within five at 23-18, but Waddell closed the match soon after with a kill that the Wildcats couldn’t return.
Each of the first two sets were close early. Polk seized the upper hand in the first set during a run of strong serving from Kendall Hall, closing the set on a Roman kill, then followed the same pattern in the second set. The Wolverines’ defense proved especially strong in that game, constantly digging West Stokes attacks and using the entire floor to prolong rallies. A Waddell kill ended the set to give Polk a 2-0 lead.
West Stokes roared ahead in the third set, building a 7-1 advantage as juniors Rachel Delcamp and Mackenize Parker began to find room to hit at the net. Polk County steadily fought back, finally tying the score at 14, but the Wildcats were able to regroup and take the set, setting the stage for the fourth and deciding set.
Waddell had 19 kills, 16 digs and four aces, with Lynch adding 10 kills, four blocks and 25 digs. Lauren Ketwitz had 17 assists and 11 digs, Georgia Garrett had 15 assists and 11 digs and Hall had 22 digs for Polk.