ELIZABETH — Rock Creek was in top form — at least in the first two sets of a sweep of Shawe Memorial — in the Class A South Central Sectional on Thursday night.
Meanwhile the host Rebels rolled to a 3-1 win over Borden in the night's second first-round match.
Rock Creek (23-7) will play New Washington (12-11) at 10 a.m. Saturday in a matchup of the teams with the two best records in the sectional. South Central (7-13) will face Lanesville (14-13) around 11:30 a.m. The final is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday night.
ROCK CREEK-SHAWE MEMORIAL
Junior outside hitter Ligia Williams poured in 20 kills for the Lions, who dominated the first two sets — winning the first 25-11 and jumping out to an 11-3 lead before taking the second 25-7. The two-time defending sectional champions may have let up on the gas to start the third, but eventually clinched the match with a 25-19 win.
The Hilltoppers took a 12-10 lead, as the Lions were guilty of some sloppy play. Shawe seized the opportunity until Rock Creek senior Bailey Brown had the opportunity to assert herself with her serve.
The setter had four of her match-high eight aces — hitting with precision to the back corner twice — to key a 12-0 run.
"We let down a lot in that third set. It was just hard to keep the game going. I was very happy with how they started the match. I felt like we played our offense regardless," Lions coach Jennifer Brown said.
For Rock Creek, it's been a long week waiting to play again after a difficult Saturday in the Lawrence North Invitational. The Lions suffered three losses — to Westfield, Mt. Vernon and Andrean — after falling to Class A No. 1 Trinity Lutheran last Thursday.
"It was a tough week for us, but you can't get better without playing teams better than you," Brown said.
Like Rock Creek, the Braves got off to an excellent start against the Rebels, pulling out the first set 26-24 before South Central took the next three 25-19, 25-23, 25-22.
The Rebels made the key plays in crunch time. In the fourth set, Borden's Josey Cheatham elevated for a kill to earn a sideout and tie the score at 18. Freshman Paige Robinson added another as the Braves' spurt put them ahead 20-18.
But South Central came storming back to take the match.
First-year Borden coach Jacque Farris saw a lot of positives from the Braves.
"I think this was the best match we played all season. We were explosive. We were more consistent with our serve-receive," she said, adding that serve-receive issues and other defensive problems were key in the loss. "I've been preaching defense all season. If you don't have good defense, it's a game-changer."
South Central's Kaylee Logsdon led the way with 18 kills. Rebels coach Amanda Haag said she made some lineup adjustments going into postseason play. One was to move Logsdon from middle to outside hitter, giving Borden a different look than the previous two meetings this season.
"It really paid off for us. It helped us finish off some points. I was excited to see that," Haag said.
Cheatham had seven kills and seven blocks while senior Carolyn Boone tallied 20 digs for Borden. Boone, setter Chloe Holtshauser, Dayton Nale and Rachel Warren will graduate.
"We had a tragedy on our team and had Carolyn step up and take the libero position. I've never seen a girl pass like that. She is probably the best DS [defensive specialist] I've ever coached. She stepped up in a role of leadership this year. And setter Chloe Holthauser, I'll miss her a lot," Farris said.