Before the season, Carroll County’s volleyball team set a goal to leave the Southwest District the same way it came in – as district champions. The Cavaliers achieved its mission by sweeping the regular season and district tournament championships with two wins over Marion.
The Cavs earned the right to host the Southwest District Tournament semifinals and finals and host a Region IV quarterfinal by winning a one-game playoff against Marion on Oct. 29 at George Wythe High School. Carroll handed Marion (19-3) its third loss of the season, all coming to the Cavaliers, Saturday with a three-set sweep in the SWD Tournament Championship.
For Carroll County (19-4), it marked the 16th time in the past 17 years it has won either the regular season or district tournament championship. Carroll and Marion split a pair of contests in the regular season, with the home team winning each time in five sets. The playoff was much the same, going down the wire to another fifth set before the Cavs prevailed 23-25, 25-23, 25-14, 22-25, 15-11.
After dropping the opening set, Carroll rallied to take the next two before watching the Scarlet Hurricane come back to force a fifth set. After falling behind 4-0 in the final set, the Cavaliers ripped off a 10-3 run to go up 10-7. Marion pulled to within 12-11 before missing a serve. Jessica Sheek then provided back-to-back kills to end the playoff and secure another district title for the Cavaliers.
Cheyenne Strickland led Carroll with 24 service points and a pair of aces to go along with 16 assists and 12 digs. Eustacia Smith had a big night with 25 kills, four blocks and 13 digs, while Rachel Farmer added 12 kills and six blocks and Sheek had 12 kills and two blocks. Autumn Hill chipped in five blocks and 11 kills and Samantha Hill had a pair of blocks and four kills.
Morgan Tompkins also had a nice serving night with 23 service points. Grace Lindsey led the team with 20 digs, while Megan Alderman had 13 digs to go along with a team-high 23 assists.
The Cavaliers were without the services of Sheek in the tournament championship game as she injured an ankle two nights earlier in pre-game warm-ups prior to Carroll’s four-set win over Richlands.
In the SWD final, the Cavs fended off tough charges from the Scarlet Hurricane in each set before pulling out a 25-21, 25-18, 25-19 victory.
Eustacia Smith led Carroll with two aces, 19 service points, 23 kills and 17 digs. Rachel Farmer was a force at the net as well with seven blocks and five kills, while Morgan Tompkins had four blocks. Autumn Hill also had seven kills and 19 service points. Megan Alderman and Ashton Huff set up the Cavalier offense with 18 and 13 assists, respectively. Lindsey again turned in a team-high in digs with 21.
After Sheek’s injury, Carroll got off to a slow start against Richlands in the tournament semifinal. Falling behind 10-6 and 18-11 in the first set, the Cavaliers rallied back to make it 20-15 after back-to-back kills by Autumn Hill. The Blue Tornado would go on to score the next four, however, to go up 24-15. Carroll almost rallied as Hill recorded two aces, Farmer and Samantha Hill teamed for a block and Richlands hit a couple of balls out of bounds to bring Carroll within 24-20 before the Blues prevailed on a missed serve.
Things weren’t much easier for the Cavs in the second set as Richlands stayed within two to three points the whole way. A kill by Tompkins put Carroll in front 21-17. Richlands added one more point before the Cavs ended the set on a 4-0 run to win 25-18 and even things up at one set apiece.
The Blue Tornado took leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 in a third set that featured 10 ties. Carroll took the lead for good at 18-17 on an Autumn Hill kill. She sandwiched two more kills around a Tompkins ace to make it 21-17 Cavs. Carroll would score four of the next five to win it on an errant return by Richlands for a two set to one lead.
The Cavaliers prevailed in another tight one in the fourth set, 25-23, to move on to the SWD finals. Tompkins and Autumn Hill each had three aces to lead Carroll, while Alderman had two aces. Smith had 15 kills and a block, Hill had 13 kills and a block, and Farmer had six blocks and nine kills. Lindsey paced the champions with 15 digs, while Alderman led the team with 20 assists and 10 digs. Cheyenne Strickland added 12 assists.
Carroll now moves on to the Region IV quarterfinals, where it was slated to host Cave Spring on Nov. 5 at 6 p.m.