Molly Hill was almost as excited as her players.
The Polk County volleyball coach all but pushed a pair of Wolverines back into position during a thrilling (and pivotal) point against Rosman on Tuesday.
“We were going point-for-point, just back-to-back,” Hill said. “Mia (Bradley) got this crazy pancake, and Sophia (Overholt) was on top of her, and I was yelling for them to get back on the court, and I’m shoving them, and it was just crazy,” Hill laughed.
The result was recorded as a kill for senior Ada Kelley. But in reality, it was the difference in a two-point lead and a four-point lead, staking the Wolverines to a 16-12 advantage and sending them to a win, allowing them to sweep the Tigers 3-0 (25-10, 26-24, 25-20).
“They managed to get that kill and get that point, and that’s what I love to see,” Hill said. “If somebody’s diving on the floor, your teammates are going after it and not letting that ball go to waste.”
That the match ended up being tense in any way was a head-scratcher. The Wolverines (3-0) completely dominated the first game, racing to an 8-0 lead on Overholt’s long service run, stretching the advantage to 22-7 before a brief Rosman run, and eventually winning 25-10.
Then, the Tigers (2-1) came storming back.
Rosman built a 9-4 lead in game two, and Polk County never seemed quite able to pull even. A service run by Bradley narrowed the gap, but the Tigers answered with a kill from Taron Boley. The Wolverines got it to one point on five different occasions, but couldn’t tie it. Finally, an ace from Bradley tied it at 18-18, and a point on Bradley’s serve edged them ahead 19-18.
From there, game two saw three ties and two lead changes. Kelley provided a pair of kills that kept the Wolverines alive, but the damage came from Morgan Yoder. She had three kills in the game’s final five points before Bradley put it away.
“They’re big, dominant hitters with heavy arms,” Hill said of Yoder and Bradley. “They pulled through in times when we needed them, and it was great to see that leadership come out from them when they were on the front row.”
Yoder, who led Polk County with nine kills, dominated game three after the wild rally that helped put the Wolverines in control. She recorded one of her three individual blocks to make it 20-12. Back-to-back kills after a Rosman point made it 22-13. And when the Tigers tried to crawl back into the match with four straight points, Yoder stopped the bleeding with a kill to make it 23-17. All the while, she was punctuating each big Polk County point with a fist pump, a yell or a cheer.
“Morgan gets really excited,” Hill said. “She gets set a lot, she’s a huge hitter for us, and it’s fun to see her get so excited, to see our setter get so excited because they connected, and the whole team kind of goes crazy, and I tend to jump up and down. It’s exciting when you get that big hit like that.”
Yoder said she was looking for the ball down the stretch in both the second and third games, and that she hoped her emotional edge helped fuel her teammates.
“I don’t want to be greedy, but at those times when we need a point, I want the ball really bad,” she said. “If it’s needed, I try my best to make it happen. And I think that if I bring energy, it helps people. I feel like if I’m quiet, they’re quiet sometimes. But if I can bring that energy and that fire, they’ll bring it, too.”
Hill said the rollercoaster-like tempo of the three games would help her team down the stretch.
“I think it makes us mentally tough,” she said. “It tests us. It prepares us in ways mentally that we don’t always get to see. And I like to have different levels of competition outside the conference because I think it makes you better. I like to play a lot of bigger schools, because I think that makes you better. And it doesn’t hurt when you win, when you’re the 1A school beating a bigger school.”
Yoder added two block assists and a dig to her stat line. Bradley had eight kills and two aces for the Wolverines, while Kelley had six kills. Overholt added four kills, a block, two block assists, nine digs and four aces. Zaelea Eller led the team with 23 assists.
Next up for the Wolverines is a road trip Wednesday to face Asheville Christian Academy, the defending North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A state champions. The Lions dropped an epic 25-21, 24-26, 25-27, 29-27, 17-15 decision at Brevard on Tuesday.