VOLLEYBALL: Polk powers past South Davidson in playoff opener

Published 11:48 am Monday, October 23, 2023

Mia Bradley’s shout escaped from Polk County’s postgame huddle Saturday.

“It’s on to Round Two,” the Wolverine junior yelled.

Indeed, Polk County moved on to the second round of the state 1A volleyball playoffs, dispatching South Davidson 25-16, 25-10, 25-7 in its opening-round match at Polk.

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The Wolverines (23-3), top seed in the 1A West bracket, equaled the school record for wins in a season and will look to set a new mark Tuesday against Mount Airy (17-10), 3-1 winners Saturday over Draughn. That matchup will be at Polk at a time to be announced.

South Davidson (4-17) entered as the 32nd seed and fifth-place team from the Central Carolina Conference, qualifying for the postseason by virtue of being the top 1A team in the league. Though a heavy underdog, the Knights battled throughout the afternoon, especially in the first set.

Playing without middle hitter Morgan Yoder, sidelined by illness, the Wolverines still raced to a 19-9 lead to open the match. South Davidson rallied and pulled within six before the Wolverines stemmed the tide and closed the set on an Ada Kelley kill.

Polk then grabbed a 4-0 lead in the second set and never trailed, and the third set followed the same pattern, with Mia Bradley’s kill igniting a set-opening 12-5 run that led to the completion of the sweep.

“Morgan being sick threw us a bit, but we adjusted really well and a bunch of people stepped up,” said Polk County head coach Molly Hill. “We had to change our lineup yesterday at practice, but we worked through that.

“I thought they played really well and had fun, so that’s exciting.”

Lexi Beiler had a season-high 11 kills for Polk, with Kelley adding 10 and Sophia Overholt notching nine. Kylie Lewis had eight kills and Mia Bradley had seven.

Zaelea Eller finished with 26 assists and four aces, with Bradley, Lewis and Overholt each adding three as the Wolverines served 16 aces.

Polk will now turn its focus to a Mount Airy squad led by Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year Alissa Clabo, the senior left-handed hitter considered one of the top hitters in the 1A West field. Mount Airy also features sophomore libero Jamari Mason, who has recorded more than 500 digs this season.

The Granite Bears dropped a tough 2-1 decision to Highland Tech, the No. 2 seed in the 1A bracket, during a late-September tournament.