RUSTBURG — Late game momentum proved unbreakable as Rustburg had scoring streaks in the three sets it won in a 3-1 win over Hidden Valley in the Class 3 state volleyball semifinal.
The Red Devils (15-0) trailed 15-7 in the deciding fourth set, then were sparked by a pair of kills from Anna Maddox to start a comeback. The teams swapped points until Faith Mitchell’s spike couldn’t be handled, then a Red Devil kill attempt went long and the Titans (13-3) led 20-16.
Katie Hardie then sent a thunderous kill down the left line and the set was tied 20-20. The Red Devils then closed out the match with an ace by Meah Coles, a perfectly placed floater by Coles and a kill by Haynie. The Titans committed possession errors on the next two points, followed by another kill by Hardie. Maddie Clouser’s kill for the Titans broke up an eight-point run by Rustburg, but a service error on match point ended it.
The set scores for Rustburg were 25-16, 25-27, 25-19, 25-21.
Titans coach Carla Ponn said the offensive firepower of Rustburg’s Hardie and Maddox was the difference.
“They have two good outside hitters. When one goes to the back the other comes to the front,” Ponn said. “They were more consistent than we were, but the difference was in the offense.”
The Titans won the set in which they didn’t allow Rustburg to string together points late. The second set saw Hidden Valley with an 18-12 lead, but Rustburg chopped away. A hitting error by the Titans tied the score 22-22. Cam Davenport then scored on a soft shot to an empty spot. Parker Goldstein tied it up with a block for Rustburg, then Davenport pounded the ball to the floor for a Titan advantage. This time Hardie answered with a kill to tie the set 25-25. Davenport was called on again for a kill to give Hidden Valley set point for the third time. This time Hardie hit the ball into the net, tying the match at a set apiece.
Hardie led the match with 39 kills. She also tallied 17 digs, an ace and two blocks for Rustburg. Maddox tallied 15 kills and eight digs, an ace and a block. Coles had 61 assists, five digs and six aces.
Davenport finished with 33 kills and 13 digs. Mitchell had nine kills and 26 assists.
The Red Devils will go to the state final for the first time since 1992.
Coach Kristen Hardie said her team stayed strong mentally.
“We had some hard matches with E.C. Glass and Jefferson Forest and I’m glad for that because it prepared us for tonight,” Hardie said. “I tell them to stay calm and be patient. The nerves were high and we just had to relax.”