FLORENCE, S.C. — South Florence had just won its first set all season in region competition, and the Bruins were neck and neck with rival West Florence in Thursday’s early going of the fourth set.
Still needing just one set victory to clinch the match, the Knights made two things come together that enabled coach Warren Coker’s squad to seal a 3-1 victory on its home court.
After not having regular setter Allysa Owens because of a nose bleed at the second set’s conclusion and not at all in the third, she returned in the fourth to re-establish the Knights’ ebb and flow on offense.
And then, as West led 5-4 in that fourth set, Rileigh Yearsich began to serve. She did not stop serving until the Knights were leading 20-4 and went on to win 20-6. The scores of the first three sets were 25-21, 25-20, 22-25.
During Yearsich’s fourth-set run on serve, she recorded four aces — including three in a row. She finished the match with seven.
“She’s a very consistent server and she can mix up her servers and hit her spots,” Coker said. “That’s huge for any team — especially one that had just lost a close earlier set. That was just gutsy play on her part while serving.”
But while Owens was out in the third, West tried to keep things going by moving middle hitter Annalia Cook to setter.
“We were then running an out-of-sequence offense,” Coker said. “Annalia stepped up and did the best she could do at setter, though.”
Meanwhile, South — which made strong runs at West in the first two sets, got off to a large third-set lead and held on to force the fourth set.
“That was heart,” South Florence volleyball coach Ashley Jordan said. “They played with everything they had.”
But while reflecting after the match, Jordan pointed out that her team focusing for the fourth set took longer than she preferred.
“I think they got too excited about winning that third set,” she said. “That was a pretty emotional moment for them. Then, they got to the fourth set and couldn’t do the little things.”
And with Owens back on the floor for the fourth set, West never looked back.
“You could tell a big difference,” Coker said. “The girls are confident with her setting.”
Case in point: The Knights’ Emmy Rollins accounted for 10 of her 21 kills in the fourth set. Owens finished Thursday’s match with 21 assists, followed by Cook with 12.
“It was a nice way to end a match that was so up and down,” Coker said. “They faced a lot of adversity today, and they handled it.”
WEST FLORENCE STATS
KILLS: Annalia Cook 4, Emmy Rollins 21, Grace Howard 2, Cami Niles 7, Rileigh Yearsich 4,
ACES: Cook 1, Rollins 3, Howard 1, Niles 2, Yearsich 7.
BLOCK KILLS: Cook 2, Rollins 3, Howard 1, Niles 1, Karis Wymbs 1.
DIGS: Jordyn Perry 4, Rollins 8, Allysa Owens 1, Howard 1, Lauren Gordon 2, Yearsich 3, Niles 1.
ASSISTS: Cook 12, Owens 21, Yearsich 1.
RECORD: WF 11-15 overall, 2-7 Region 6-5A.