LEXINGTON – Parents and friends lined a hallway at White Knoll High School late Saturday afternoon waiting to greet the Eastside volleyball team after the AAA state championship game.
Though they clapped and cheered for the Eagles, they also had to hug and console as the girls dealt with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Hilton Head Island. The Seahawks beat Eastside 26-24, 20-25, 25-20, and 25-16 to take the 2015 AAA volleyball title. Fifty-three weeks ago, Hilton Head Island had been in Eastside’s position, having lost in the finals to Pickens.“They were hungry,” Eastside coach Susan Meadows said of the Seahawks. “They’d been here. We hadn’t. I think a little bit of experience makes a big difference.”
Hilton Head Island’s outside hitters made a big difference, too. Hannah Edelman and Sydney Janson racked up kills or forced the Eagles to struggle to extend volleys.
“Their two outsides played well all night,” said Meadows. “We adjusted our blocking, and they still went down the line when we were trying to make them go across.”
The Seahawks also did a good job when Eastside’s top player Allie Wright was on the back row or rotated out.
Meadows said, “We would get in a rotation, we would get stuck, and we couldn’t get out of the rotation.I kept saying we’ve got to get points while she’s in there.
“We were expecting them to go to the middle a little bit more,” she said. “When they went to the middle, I guess they were trying to stay away from Allie. Then, when we got Allie on the back row, we would get stuck. Allie’s just a force offensively and defensively.”
The Eagles held a lead in each of the four sets. In the first, two plays at the net by Wright helped Eastside build a 17-12 advantage, but the Seahawks chipped away and won 26-24.
Eastside led throughout the second set and built a 21-11 lead. Hilton Head Island rallied again, but the Eagles held on for a five-point win.
The teams swapped leads in the third, and Eastside went up 17-16 on a Seahawks error. Edelman and Janson combined for five kills from there to pace the 25-20 win.
Janson spurred a critical 9-0 run midway through the fourth set with four kills, and that enabled the Seahawks to put away the match.
“I’m not upset,” said Meadows. “I’m not disappointed. I wish we’d have maybe played a little bit better.”