A historical season for the Catawba Ridge volleyball team came to a close Tuesday in the 4A Upper State championship match as they were swept by the Pickens Blue Flame 3-0 (25-8, 25-17, 25-22).
Catawba Ridge finished the season at 23-9 after advancing the furthest they have ever gone in the playoffs in just their third year.
“I am super excited for the talent we are keeping,” said Copperheads’ head coach Alicia Lisee. “It hurts to lose, but I am super proud of them. So much growth has happened for them since they were sophomores.”
Pickens, who has won 15 state volleyball titles and is considered a powerhouse in the state, took the attack right at Catawba Ridge most of the night. They opened the first set and didn’t trail until the third set.
In the opening set, Pickens went up 9-2 and then surged ahead to 13-4 before a Copperheads time out. Pickens stayed red hot out of the time out and went up 20-6 before closing the first set out by winning 25-8.
Dropping the first set is nothing new for Catawba Ridge as they have done that often in the playoffs, however this time around, the way Pickens dominated was a little too much for them to overcome.
“We had been playing great this post season, but they had a pretty fast offense,” Lisee said.
The second set was more of the same for the Blue Flame as they got off to a fast start, but this time around the Copperheads were able to keep pace better. Pickens went up 13-11 as Catawba Ridge held pace. Pickens extended that lead to 19-14 as the Copperheads tried to regroup with a time out. The time out didn’t help much as Pickens went up 2-0 with a 25-17 win.
Catawba Ridge played their best in the third set as the took the lead for the first time going up 3-1, but Pickens tied the set at 5-5 and then started to pull ahead going up 14-9. Catawba Ridge fought back to tie the set at 20-20, forcing Pickens to take a time out. Pickens came out of the time out and scored two points as the Copperheads then took a time out as well. The break helped as Catawba Ridge tied the set at 22-22, but couldn’t get any further as the Blue Flame scored the final three points in the set to get the sweep.
Pickens will now play Aiken in the 4A state title match Saturday in Columbia.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @fortprep