Overhills’ red-hot finish to the regular season didn’t extend into the playoffs thanks to Sanderson. The Spartans were even hotter.
Sanderson downed the Mid-South Conference tournament champions 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-21) on the road Wednesday night.
The Spartans (14-9), the 12-seed in the East, matched up well with Overhills (13-9-1), the 5-seed in the Mideast. Middle blocker Sydney Koch had a big game, getting kills at will while staying on the move, pin-to-pin.
“Hallie (Phillips), our setter, did a really good job of moving us a lot so we kind of confused the block so we could use the holes,” Koch said.
Overhills coach Tod Bonello had high praise for Koch.
“She is incredible. We have never went up against a player like her; very similar, but nothing like her,” Bonello said. “We were trying to make adjustments but we never could capitalize on stopping her completely.”
Sanderson has won eight of its last nine, but the celebration will be limited to just the bus ride back to Raleigh.
Up next, less than 24 hours after winning at Overhills, is a trip to Wilmington to face 3-seed Hoggard on Thursday. Hoggard downed Holly Springs 3-1.
“We knew coming into the playoffs what we wanted to do. And they knew, after last year after losing in the first round, what it was going to be like,” “So this year they were a little more relaxed with that, and it helped. That’s where we are right now and I hope it carries over into tomorrow as well.”
For Overhills, the season was the Jags’ best since moving up to 4A. The tournament title was its first conference crown in the sport since 2012. The Jaguars, which had won five of their last six entering the playoff match, will lose all six starters and two more to graduation.
“This is my third year and I’ve basically grown up in this environment with them,” Bonello said. “These girls are everything to me and I’m going to miss them terribly because they showed me their leadership.”