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Lady Bulldogs cruise into round 2

CHS blasts Seneca in three straight

Posted: October 25, 2018 1:35 p.m.
Updated: October 26, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

CAMDEN’S ABBY IRICK BLASTS a shot past a pair of Seneca players in the Lady Bulldogs’ 3-0 sweep in Wednesday’s first round AAA Upper State tournament match.

Well before Abby Irick served up 11 straight winners in Wednesday’s AAA Upper State volleyball tournament opener against visiting Seneca, Camden could have already had started making plans for its second round opponent.

With Irick --- Camden’s senior setter --- on the line in the second set, the Lady Bulldogs saw their lead balloon from 9-3 to 20-4 before Seneca got a side out in a 25-7 CHS win. Camden (14-11-4) won the opening set in identical fashion, 25-7, before closing this match out in less than an hour by taking the third set, 25-16.

Paige Wilson and company will hit the road on Monday, meeting Woodruff, a 3-0 winner over Southside, in a second round pairing. The start time is set for 6 p.m.

With Wilson encouraging her team to get excited for the playoffs, the hostesses responded and were never being threatened by the Lady Bobcats, the third-place finisher out of Region 1. Not surprisingly, CHS was led by its three seniors --- Katharine Coplin, Ajah Drakeford and Irick --- who may have played their final home match and, made a victorious exit.

“I thought that our seniors stepped it up tonight. Thought it was fitting since this was our senior night,” Wilson said. “The team, as a whole, stepped it up but I thought our seniors played very well and led us.”

Irick found the mark on 17 of her 19 serves with nine going in for aces while dishing out 20 assists in the match. Coplin led the defense with 15 digs while adding eight kills and was 19-for-22 with her hits. She also had three aces on a 16-for-19 serving night. Drakeford added to the Camden’s dominance along the net with her hitting and blocking skills.

Camden never allowed the Lady Bobcats to settle in after the visitors made the three-hour trek from the Upstate. The Lady Bulldogs sprinted to a 15-3 first set lead and never looked back in a pairing in which they never trailed.

The Lady Bulldogs scored four straight points with Meg Matthews at the service stripe in the opener while Coplin was there for five in a row --- with three aces --- before freshman Olivia Bishop served up the final four points.

There was no drop in intensity in the second set, especially at the service line as Madison Williams sent up five serves as the CHS lead grew from 4-2 to 8-3. Irick then planted herself on the line to all but put this one away in another 18-point rout.

“We served well tonight,” Wilson said. “We had some good service runs; Abby had a couple, Katherine Coplin had some and Novi (Lock) did, too. Several people had good serving runs for us tonight.”

Seneca threatened to extend the match in trailing, 9-7, in the third set before Camden pulled away and used a13-5 run which included scoring six straight points with Coplin serving to grab a 14-8 advantage.

Seneca scored a flurry of points in the closing stages to chop the final spread to eight points.

Wilson said after watching her team in practice in the days leading up to the match, she felt better about her team’s chances in their opening match.

“I felt good going in. I thought we were ready to play. We brought some energy and played well tonight,” she said. “I felt that we were mentally ready. We came out mentally ready and were ready to play tonight. We played well. I was pleased with our effort and our intensity.”

While the seniors played a large role in the victory, several underclassmen posted strong numbers for the Lady Bulldogs. Lock, a junior, led Camden with nine kills on a 19-for-20 hitting performance. Bishop was second to Coplin in digs as she came up with nine in her first postseason appearance.

“We had a strong passing performance as a team, also including Novi, Meg Matthews, Kathryn Rabon, Madison Williams and Aaliyah Tucker,” Wilson said. “And, Ajah Drakeford, Grace Montgomery, Olivia Bishop and Keisha Land were also strong at the net for us.”

Following a second-place finish in Region 4-AAA, Wilson is hoping Wednesday’s dominating victory will get her team going for an extended tourney run.

“Now is when you want to peak,” Wilson said. “We’ve had some ups and downs this season but, we’ve been practicing well. This is what you work and play for, to get in the playoffs.

“I thought that we practiced well this week; our energy seemed good in practice. I thought we were mentally ready. With it being the playoffs, I think we took our intensity to another level.”

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