VOLLEYBALL: Wolverines suffer first loss of season at Brevard

Published 12:28 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2023

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Perhaps, in time, Tuesday will prove to be a benefit for Polk County’s volleyball squad.

Talented opponent, hostile road environment. It’s a combination the Wolverines had not faced thus far this season, and it helped lead to Polk County’s first loss, a 3-1 setback to the Blue Devils.

Make no mistake – the Blue Devils (14-2, 6-0) played extremely well in this matchup of teams ranked among the state’s best most of this season. Meleah Foster paced a Brevard attack that troubled Polk’s front line, and the Blue Devils were outstanding with their back-row defense. Brevard kept alive points that have typically been winners thus far this season for Polk, diving to the floor for digs that often led to successful attacks.

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The effort tested the Wolverines unlike any exam thus far. Polk (13-1, 5-1), by its own admission, did not score an A in the 25-15, 26-24, 22-25, 25-20 setback.

“I told them in the locker room that there were just times where we folded under the pressure,” said Polk County head coach Molly Hill. “We weren’t mentally tough. We couldn’t come out of that serve receive.

“They were prepared and they were rowdy and they were ready to go and excited. I felt like our excitement kind of dwindled, and we were up and we were doing great and then, in those moments where something was going wrong, that’s when we folded and didn’t come together as a team.”

Brevard controlled the first set from start to finish, Foster’s emphatic kill on the first point serving notice of how her evening would fare. The Blue Devils steadily pulled away to take the set and a 1-0 advantage.

The Wolverines began to find a semblance of rhythm in the second set, fighting back from a 15-12 deficit and taking a 23-21 lead on an Ada Kelley kill and a Brevard miscue.

A Foster kill, a hitting error and a Foster block gave Brevard a set point at 24-23. Polk County saved that point and served at 24-24, but Morgan Baldridge tipped over a point and a Polk kill attempt sailed wide to end the set and give the Blue Devils a 2-0 lead.

The Wolverines, though, roared to life in the third set. Sophia Overholt and Mia Bradley sparked an early rally that pushed Polk to a 10-4 lead, and the Wolverines kept extending that margin until taking a 23-11 advantage.

But two points from a dominant set win, Polk lost its momentum. Foster’s serving led a run of nine straight points, Brevard pulling within 23-20 before an Overholt kill halted the run. An Ella Scott kill and Baldridge ace sliced the margin to 24-22 before Bradley scored from the outside to end the set.

The fourth set stood tied at 10-10 before Emma Powell and Scott charged a 7-1 run to give the Devils a 17-11 lead. Polk got no closer than four points the rest of the set.

Morgan Yoder finished with nine kills, with Overholt adding eight and Bradley recording seven. Kylie Lewis had six kills in a solid effort in the middle.

Zaelea Eller had 20 assists, with Charley Dusenbury recording 11. Overholt had 24 digs, with Ada Kelley and Elena Carroll each notching 17 and Bradley adding 15. Bradley, Yoder and Eller each had two assists.

Polk County is back in action Wednesday, hosting Pisgah in a non-conference match at 5:30 p.m

“We’ve got to learn from this,” Hill said. “The good news is, we’ll see them again.”