Emma Claire Mackey returns a ball during the Copperheads’ Upper State championship match Tuesday at South Aiken High School.

AIKEN – For the second straight year, the South Aiken Thoroughbreds ended the season for the Catawba Ridge girls’ volleyball team.

South Aiken won the 4A Upper State Championship 3-0 (25-13, 25-5, 25-17) Tuesday to advance to Saturday’s state championship match against North Myrtle Beach.

“We let them rattle us in the first set,” said Catawba Ridge head coach Alicia Lisee. “This is a small gym and a tough environment to play in. If our girls learn anything, I want them to take this experience and build on it.”

In a pretty crowded and very loud Thoroughbreds gym, South Aiken got off to a quick start in the first set and took advantage of their home court.

South Aiken started 5-1, but Catawba Ridge rallied to tie the set at 8. The Thoroughbreds then rattled off five straight points to go up 13-8 and shift things in their favor.

South Aiken was strong on the attack and went up 17-10 as the Copperheads tried to regroup during a timeout, but the Thoroughbreds ended the set on an impressive run to establish themselves in the match.

South Aiken didn’t take their foot off the gas to open the second set as they started 7-1 before a Copperheads timeout. The Thoroughbreds were strong at the net and were able to put balls in places that the Copperheads weren’t.

South Aiken continued to push the pace and went up 18-4 as Catawba Ridge struggled to make adjustments. South Aiken quickly put the set away by 20 points and went up 2-0.

The two teams started off the third set trading points in the early going as South Aiken wasn’t as dominant.

The Copperheads played better in the third set getting to balls they didn’t in the first two sets.

With the set tied at 8, South Aiken started to regain some of the same strength they had in the first two sets and made a run.

The Thoroughbreds went up 15-12 and again started finding holes in the Copperheads defense to place shots. South Aiken extended their lead to 19-13 as Catawba Ridge called a timeout. The Copperheads continued to play hard, but wasn’t able to overcome the deficit after the timeout.

Catawba Ridge finished the season at 19-11-3 overall.

Mac Banks: mac@fortmillprepsports.com, @fortprep