CHARLESTON – Shady Spring head volleyball coach Kelly Williams preached to her team the entire postseason there were no givens. If they wanted to make a trip back to the Class AA state championship match and defend their state title, they would have to earn it.
Friday night inside the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center, the Tigers followed their coaches advice with a 3-0 sweep of No. 5 seed Oak Glen.
“Super excited for the girls. It’s great to win again,” Williams said. “Heading to the state championship game again is just phenomenal. Hats off to the girls tonight.”
Although they were a heavy underdog, the Golden Bears stood toe-to-toe with Shady in the early going trailing 13-12 in the first set.
The initial hope of an upset was dashed on an 8-0 run by the Tigers.
Chloe Thompson’s blast started the run and a kill from Meg Williams ended the spurt. Shady would walk away from set one a 25-14 winner.
“Those two are a dynamic duo, but you can’t do that without a great setter either. The team really came up big tonight,” coach Williams said.
Tied 2-2 in the second set another Shady Spring spurt put Oak Glen in a serious jam early.
A kill from Kelsie Dangerfield and two aces from Rachel Mann tipped the set in Shady’s direction. A kill and a block from Meg Williams came at the end of an 11-2 run which put Tigers in full control.
Oak Glen trimmed the lead to six points, but in set two the Bears had no answers at the net for Thompson and Williams who continued to control the net in a 25-11 win.
Although Shady eventually won the final set 25-21, the win came much tougher as the Bears were not going away without a fight.
Leading by as many as six points in the early portion of the match, Oak Glen was leading 12-8 when Shady answered to briefly regain the lead.
A kill from Dangerfield was followed by two kills and a block from Williams. Two more bombs from Williams helped push the lead to 16-14.
“Our front row has big hitters at times. Our defense wasn’t spot on at times in that last set. Our serving definitely helped out a lot tonight,” coach Williams said.
Two kills from Oak Glen standout Ashley Six stemmed the run by Shady and sent the set briefly into a back-and-forth battle.
The two teams battled through four ties before Thompson broke the 21-21 deadlock and capped the winning 4-0 run with another blast.
“They didn’t panic tonight. They stayed calm and just did their job,” coach Williams said about the tight third match.
Shady Spring will now make its third straight trip to the Class AA state championship game Saturday. The match will start 45 minutes after the Class A championship which will be played at 9:30 a.m.