Nation Ford players after the final point in winning the Region 3-5A title over Clover. Photos by Rob Upton

CLOVER – A sweep of the Clover Blue Eagles gave Nation Ford the Region 3-5A title Thursday, but it wasn’t as easy as the score indicated.

Nation Ford won 3-0 (27-25, 25-19, 25-21) to finish region play with a 7-1 record and improved to 20-10 overall on the season. It is the seventh consecutive region title for the Falcons’ volleyball program.

“They are a good team,” said Nation Ford head coach Craig Brown of Clover. “This region will be a hard out in the playoffs.”

Clover gave Nation Ford fits early on in the contest as the first set became a back-and-forth battle between the two teams. Each team traded points and fought through two ties in the first six points of the set. Clover took a small 5-3 lead, but Nation Ford came back to tie the set at 8-8 on four consecutive points.

The Blue Eagles would tie the first set on two more occasions, but Nation Ford was able to keep a small enough advantage until Clover tied the set at 23-23 forcing the Falcons to take a time out. Clover came out of the time out and took a 25-24 lead and Nation Ford again took another time out to refocus. This time whatever Brown told them in the huddle worked as the Falcons scored three straight points to take the first set 27-25.

Brown said he made some adjustments between sets, which helped Nation Ford in the final two sets.

“We served the ball better in the second and third sets,” he said. “When we can get swings in, we are dangerous. I am proud of my girls. They have worked hard all year.”  

The second set again started out close with Clover jumping out to a good start, only to have Nation Ford comeback and tie them at 4-4. The Blue Eagles then started to pull away and got some breathing room as they held the Falcons at a distance to go up 12-7. Nation Ford was able to regroup on their own without a time out and tied the set at 15-15. The two squads would trade points and tied it up two more times before the Falcons would score six consecutive points to go up 24-18 and closing it out.

The third set saw Clover go up 5-3, but unlike the second set, they struggled to pull away. Nation Ford came back to tie it and, in the process, scored five consecutive points to go up 8-5. They would never trail from that point forward. Clover did keep pace, but could never manage to get the service points they needed to rally.

Nation Ford will open the 5A playoffs Wednesday, Oct. 20 at home, but before then will head to Wando for a two-day tournament this weekend where they will play six matches.


In other volleyball news, Fort Mill beat Gaffney 3-1 at home to improve to 17-7 and finish off their region season at 5-3. They will open the playoffs next week on the road after finishing third in the region.


Fort Mill won the Region 3-5A title beating Gaffney 6-0 to improve to 8-0 in the region and 14-0 overall on the season. The Jackets will host a first round playoff match Thursday, Oct. 21 against Rock Hill. Winning for Fort Mill was No. 1 singles Ana Pallath 6-2, 6-2; No. 2 singles Madison McCarty 6-4, 6-1; No. 3 singles Katie Pierson 6-0, 6-1; No. 4 singles Rachel Templeton 6-0, 6-0 and No. 5 singles Emily Rimmer 6-0, 6-0. Winning in doubles was Clara Lake and Kate Hill 6-1, 6-1.

Nation Ford fell to Clover Thursday evening on the road 4-2. They will open the playoffs next week on the road as a four seed and travel to Blythewood. They finished the regular season at 2-9 overall and 2-6 in region play. Winning for them Thursday was No. 5 singles Alexa Brenner 6-1, 6-0 and No. 2 doubles Ansley McDonald and Eva Arnautovic 6-3, 6-0.

Catawba Ridge finished out its regular season in non-region action Thursday beating Rock Hill 4-3 to improve to 13-3 overall. Winning for the Copperheads was No. 1 singles Sarah Taylor 6-1, 6-2; No. 4 singles Sara Maleady 6-0, 6-0; No. 5 singles Lilly L’esperance 6-1, 6-0 and in No. 1 doubles Taylor and Claire Hivner teamed to win 9-8 (7-5). The Copperheads have a bye in the first round of the 4A playoffs next week and will play at home Tuesday, Oct. 26 in the second round.

Mac Banks:, @fortprep

The Falocns’ Adeline Mezzanotte looks to pass the ball during Nation Ford’s match at Clover Thursday.