BOONVILLE — Four matches, four sweeps.
The Lady Rams continued their remarkable run through the 1A volleyball state playoffs Saturday afternoon, notching their fourth-straight postseason sweep, blanking Northwest Conference champion North Stokes 25-15, 25-22, 25-20 in the Western Regional semifinal.
“We played with a lot of emotion today and we made some good choices. I thought on the whole, I was proud of how hard we play and I was proud to watch us play with that emotion,” head coach Jon Symons explained. “A lot of times, we just walk through it, no big deal. But today, we knew what was coming and we were ready to go. It was a good win.
“North Stokes is a very good team,” he continued. “They made us play defense and they made us move our feet. There is a reason why they made it to the fourth round.”
Starmount stormed out of the gate in the first game, scoring the first five points and 11 of the first 16. After forcing a Viking timeout at 15-8, North Stokes fought back and cut the deficit to 15-13.
From there, the Rams used a convincing 10-2 run to win 25-15.
In game two, Starmount once again jumped out to a big 10-5 advantage before watching the Vikings claw back.
The teams traded points down the stretch until Hunter Welborn slammed a spike to give the Rams a hard-fought 25-22 victory to push the match-lead out to 2-0.
In the do-or-die third game, Starmount opened in a hurry once again, winning a long rally to grab a 15-6 lead. The Rams extended the cushion out to 19-9 on a Haley Hartman kill.
But facing elimination, the Vikings battled back for the third-straight set, using a 10-3 burst to cut the deficit down to 22-19.
Welborn slammed two kills down the stretch as Starmount added the finishing touches to the 25-21 triumph in the game for the tough sweep.
“Everybody contributed today,” Symons said. “The role players aren’t role players anymore, they’re all good players. The younger kids — the junior and sophomore class — are really bring their game up and that’s making us play better; it’s not just the seniors. Everybody is playing better and everybody understands it’s one-and-done so you might as well leave it all on the floor.
“It’s been a good run so far. Four down, hopefully a couple more to go.”
Welborn finished the afternoon with 22 kills, 12 digs and seven blocks, while Hartman added 10 kills, 15 digs and three blocks.
Erin Barr tallied 40 assists, eight digs and three kills, while Alli St. John recorded seven kills.
Starmount (25-6) advanced to the Western Regional Championship with the win. The Rams will take on Big Smoky Mountain Conference champ Rosman (25-1) in the Final Four match-up.
“We know in the semifinals that every point is going to be contested and every pass is going to be important to put on target,” Symons said. “There are no six- and seven-point leads to bank on. It’s going to be highly-contested, and if we aren’t ready to play, we’re not going to win. I think if we play a lot more efficiently, we can compete.
“We’ll have to go see what happens.”
The showdown is set for Tuesday night in Rosman.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.