Delaney Scharnus started things off with an ace Saturday. Kate Hardie ended it all with a kill.
In between there was back-and-forth action, a few marathon points and a look in Rustburg players’ eyes that said they’re determined to keep a dream season alive.
The Red Devils swept Hidden Valley, 3-0, in the Class 3 state quarterfinals at RHS, winning 25-21, 26-24 and 29-27.
“I thought we were flat at the beginning,” sophomore outside hitter Kate Hardie said. “And then we brought some intensity that helped us power through on the court.”
Hardie, who entered state play with 295 kills on the season and was a major force in helping Rustburg claim the Region 3C championship earlier in the week, finished Saturday’s game with 12 kills, eight digs, an ace and two blocks. Setter Meah Coles had a double-double, with 34 assists and 11 digs. Scharnus finished with 14 digs and five aces. And Anna Maddox added 11 kills and seven digs for the Red Devils (23-5).
Rustburg’s season ended last year in the same round. But there was no stopping the Red Devils in this year’s state quarterfinals. Hidden Valley (23-6) committed too many unforced errors and could never close out a set when it had the opportunity. All three sets were close, but things swung Rustburg’s way every time.
But it wasn’t luck; Rustburg looked resolved. And whenever Hidden Valley left the door open, the Red Devils pounced.
“For all of us, this is our first time winning a state game,” Maddox said. “So it was really monumental for all of us.”
RHS closed out the first set on a 6-2 run after things were knotted at 19. The back-and-forth second set featured 11 ties. The two teams were in a standoff at 24-all when Maddox’s kills gave RHS a one-point advantage. Scharnus ended that set with an ace.
Rustburg then clawed back from a 19-15 deficit in the third set, which featured eight ties. Hardie delivered a blistering kill to knot things at 15 in that set. Hidden Valley stormed back by taking the next four points and winning a marathon point as part of that run.
But RHS chipped away steadily and forced a number of ties down the stretch.
Rachel Sledd (six kills) gave the Campbell County squad a 28-27 lead when she lobbed a shot in no-man’s land. Hardie found the right side on a kill that ended the match one point later.
“Just over-excitement,” Hardie said. “We were joyous and just proud to be playing Tuesday night.”
Rustburg travels to two-time defending state champ Lord Botetourt for the state semifinals Tuesday at 6 p.m. The Cavaliers ended RHS’ season one year ago and enter the state final four with a 30-0 record.
No opponent has won a set against LB this season. That doesn’t matter much to Rustburg right now.
“We feel like we have a chance against Lord Botetourt,” Hardie said. “Obviously they’re really good. But we think we can bring our momentum and use that.”
Eight years ago, Rustburg lost to Hidden Valley in the now-defunct Group AA state quarters. So Saturday’s match was sweet revenge.
“They played hard, they stayed focused, and they didn’t get down,” RHS coach Kristen Hardie said of her squad’s resolve in the second and third sets. “They didn’t get frustrated because we were losing.”
Maddox, a 5-foot-9 junior outside hitter, said she and her teammates are proud to follow in the 2011 team’s footsteps. The ’11 team won a region title before advancing to the state quarters.
But these Red Devils have now carved out their own path. They’re trying to bring a state volleyball championship to Rustburg for the first time since 1992.
Maddox was impressed with her team’s determination Saturday.
“Our ability to bounce back,” she said. “If we messed up, we shook it off, told everyone it was OK and came back and got the next point.”
Hidden Valley (23-6) was led by Cam Davenport (11 kills, six digs), Frannie Sine (12 digs, seven kills), Amber Assaid (14 digs) and Faith Mitchell (16 assists).
Reach Ben Cates at (434) 385-5527.