Not that there was much doubt beforehand, but Polk County now can officially block off Oct. 22 on its volleyball schedule.
That’s the date when the 2A state playoffs begin, and the Wolverines are locked in the field following Tuesday’s 25-16, 29-27, 25-11 victory over Hendersonville in a Mountain Foothills 7 Conference match at Polk.
The Wolverines (15-1, 8-0) are assured one of the MF7’s two automatic playoff berths, knocking one goal off the team’s preseason list. A number of targets remain, though, for head coach Molly Hill and team.
“It puts a check mark in the box for goals that we set,” Hill said. “We’re there, but I keep telling the girls that this doesn’t mean that we let up. This doesn’t mean we can play around. We still have plenty to do to prepare us for that time.”
Polk County sailed through the opening set Tuesday, a Zaelea Eller serving run pushing the Wolverines to an 11-3 lead. Polk largely kept that margin throughout the remainder of the set.
But the Bearcats (5-7, 4-4) began to find an offensive groove in the second set. At 14-14, Hendersonville snapped the tie with a 5-1 run and reached set point at 24-19.
Polk, though, refused to yield the set to the Bearcats. A Morgan Yoder tip, a great team defensive effort that resulted in a Hendersonville miscue, a Mia Bradley/Sophia Overholt block and an Elena Carroll kill cut the deficit to 24-23 and led to a Bearcat timeout.
Bradley followed the break with another kill to even the match. Hendersonville still had two more set points, at 25-24 and 26-25, but kills by Carroll and Yoder saved both. Finally, with a 28-27 lead, Ada Kelley pushed a shot into a gap in the Bearcat defense to seal the set and give Polk a 2-0 advantage.
“First game, it was fun and we were able to let everyone play and try a few different things we don’t usually get to do,” Hill said. “In the second game, we just got unfocused and weren’t mentally tough. That happens.
“But I was really impressed with how we turned it around in the third game. We maintained control the whole game and, again, people got to have opportunities.”
Another Eller serving run early in that final set again pushed Polk in front 11-3, and the Wolverines largely cruised from that point on through match point.
Yoder had 11 kills for Polk, with Carroll finishing with nine kills and eight digs. Overholt had eight kills and nine digs, surpassing 500 digs for her career.
Bradley finished with five kills while Kelley added four and nine digs.
Eller had 16 assists and 11 digs, with Amberlyn Scruggs recording 13 assists and seven digs. Ella Waldman had 11 digs and four assists.
Polk County returns to action Wednesday, hosting R-S Central. That match will begin around 6:30 p.m. and can be seen on NFHS Network.