Turns out the roller coaster that Polk County Middle’s volleyball team rode Monday stopped at the top of the East Division.
The Wolverines outlasted Apple Valley in a battle of Blue Ridge Conference East co-leaders, fighting through a tough final set to claim a 25-10, 16-25, 15-13 victory before a loud crowd at Polk Middle.
The win leaves the Wolverines (7-1, 5-1) alone atop the East Division, a game ahead of both Rugby and Apple Valley, which defeated Polk Middle in their first meeting earlier this season.
“That was a big win for the girls,” said Polk Middle head coach Kenny Hall. “That was a really good volleyball game. Both sides fought hard.”
The Wolverines dominated the opening set, relying on its strong serving and defense against Apple Valley’s offense. Polk turned a 13-7 lead into a 23-8 advantage, the 10-1 run highlighted by aces from Anna Jackson, Zaelea Eller and Elena Carroll and kills by Sophia Overholt, Ada Kelley and Brianna Powell.
An Overholt kill made it 24-9, and Powell closed the set with a kill to give Polk a 1-0 lead.
But Apple Valley’s hitters began to find openings in the second set, the Knights rolling to an 11-3 lead. Polk, though, began to fight back and clawed within two points at 15-13.
But the Knights reeled off eight straight points and closed the set shortly thereafter to force the deciding third set.
The teams swapped points in the third and were deadlocked at 10-10 before Polk took advantage of a pair of errors and grabbed a 13-10 advantage. Powell moved Polk to match point with a kill to make it 14-11, but Apple Valley scored two quick points to make it 14-13.
The Wolverines took a timeout, and an Apple Valley service error ended the match.
“We lost the first time because we did not play well with serve receive,” Hall said. “That’s definitely been an emphasis since that loss, adjusting to the best servers we face.
“They’ve got two hitters that are are good as anybody in the league. We knew we would see them again, so that’s been a focus for a couple of weeks. We’ve been gearing up for that since the first loss.”
Polk County Middle travels Wednesday to face Hendersonville Middle in the continued tough road that is the East Division.
“We can’t go to sleep,” Hall said. “We’ve got to go to Hendersonville, we’ve still got Brevard to play, we’ve got Rugby to play.”