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Pickens halts Aiken’s run at volleyball title

Posted: November 8, 2017 - 2:15am
Aiken's Zymbraya Corley delivers a hit against Blue Ridge's Anna Johnson in an earlier playoff round. DAVID LEE/STAFF
Aiken's Zymbraya Corley delivers a hit against Blue Ridge's Anna Johnson in an earlier playoff round. DAVID LEE/STAFF

PICKENS, S.C. - Pickens earned another slice of revenge Tuesday night and is headed back to the state championship match.

The Blue Flame rallied after dropping the first set and defeated defending state champion Aiken 3-1 (23-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-10) in the Class AAAA volleyball Upper State final.

A year ago, Aiken eliminated Pickens in the Upper State final. The previous year, the Blue Flame were knocked out in the Upper State by Eastside, the team Pickens beat in the third round.

"That's like a double win in our books, so it feels really good," said Pickens senior Elizabeth Waters.

Pickens (22-2), seeking its first title since 2014, will play Myrtle Beach in the state final at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Chapin High School.

Aiken had the early advantage, leading 6-2 in the first set. The Hornets took the lead for good at 16-15 and went on to win 25-23.

The second set also was close throughout, with Pickens eventually pulling out a 25-22 victory. The Blue Flame began widening the gap in the third set, when Kaylee Gillespie served five consecutive winners to put Pickens in control, and 6-foot-3 Sydney Bolding, who finished with 20 kills, had three straight to make it 19-15. Pickens won that set 25-17.

The Blue Flame had all the momentum in the fourth set.

"I thought we came out playing strong in the first game," Aiken coach Malynda Young said, "and then I don't know if we just backed down and decided to play it a little too safe, so our blocking didn't make it there and our hits were just going into somebody else. In the last game, we couldn't seem to get the ball inside the red lines and that's what we had to do.

"But Pickens is a very strong team and if you can't keep them out of system, you're in trouble."

The Hornets ended the season at 36-10.

"We had a great run," Young said. "The team worked really hard."

 

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