Fed up with first-round losses in the state volleyball tournament over the last two seasons, the Lady Wolverines ensured Thursday that it wouldn’t happen again.
And based on their performance against Hillgrove, they may have a few more rounds left in them.
Mistakes were few and far between as Area 4AAAAAA runner-up Woodstock beat the Lady Hawks 25-13, 25-17, 25-22.
The Lady Wolverines will either host South Gwinnett or travel to Brookwood in Tuesday’s second round.
Sara Graf, Abbey Booz, Paige Trammell, Grace Townsend and Cassady Thompson were sophomores when West Forsyth came from behind to beat them at in the first round of the 2010 tournament. A year ago, they lost a marathon five-setter at East Coweta, which left 2012 as the senior core’s final shot to win in the postseason.
Thompson led Woodstock (34-14) with 10 kills and a block. Graf finished with seven kills and seven digs, Riley McBay added six kills and Trammell finished with five digs. Townsend dished out 27 assists.
“I really — honestly — don’t even have any words,” Graf said. “I’m so excited right now, especially with all the fans we had. We had everything the way we wanted it. The whole thing was perfect, and we all played well.”
Woodstock was defensively sound against Hillgrove (29-13).
Middle hitters McBay and Kayla Ousley kept the Lady Hawks’ hitters from doing extensive damage in the first two sets, and the Lady Wolverines passed well from the back row. Woodstock built leads of at least 10 points in the first two sets before holding on.
Woodstock didn’t seem to be fazed by the adjustments Hillgrove made after the second set, or affected by the Lady Hawks’ ability to keep the third set close right to the very end. All it took was Woodstock making stellar offensive plays on the crucial points.
“(Hillgrove coach) Shannon (Mabrey) did a good job coming back out in the third game,” Woodstock coach Anita Dodd said. “I felt like our girls wanted it so bad enough that they had to go get it. They had to put the ball down instead of letting it go back over.
Hillgrove middle hitters Mackenzie Engram and Chioma Okonkwo got more involved in the third set and took away some of Woodstock’s hitting options. It was Okonkwo’s kill on a free ball that gave the Lady Hawks a 4-2 lead, and Hillgrove maintained the lead until Woodstock took it back on a Cassady kill.
The Lady Hawks did take a brief lead 14-13 on a solo block by Kelly Arnold, but Woodstock took the lead right back on a McBay kill that appeared to be going out of bounds before being touched by a Hillgrove player.
Hillgrove jumped in front one last time at 19-18 on a passing error by Townsend before Woodstock rebounded once again and took a 20-19 lead on a Thompson kill.
Woodstock managed to hold on to it for good by winning the critical points. Ousley hit a first-ball kill for a 22-20 lead, and another Ousley kill soon after ended a long point and gave Woodstock a 23-21 lead.
The Lady Wolverines were also gifted with a costly hitting error by Hillgrove to bring about match point, and Graf ended it on the second try with a kill.
Arnold led Hillgrove with 10 kills. Okonkwo added six kills and Shayne Williamson finished with five. Engram had three kills and a block-assist in the third set alone.