Before the season, Western Tech volleyball coach Eric Jett talked about his team’s main goal.
“We play for the end of the year,” said Jett, during a pre-season practice.
The end of the year got a little later on Wednesday night when the host Wolverines (15-2) swept Carver A & T, 25-20, 25-19, 25-22 and won their third straight playoff game in the Class 1A North Region playoffs.
The No. 14 ranked Wolverines will host Reginald Lewis on Friday, Nov. 9 at 5 p.m.
They will play for the school’s third regional championship in Jett’s 18 years and second straight.They lost in the state semifinals last year and also in 2011.
The victory over Carver (5-11) was much tougher then the Wolverines sweep over them earlier in the season.
Kieran Ray had four of her seven kills in the first set and helped the Wolverines forge a 17-13 lead.
But Carver’s top hitter, Zyare Abdul-Rahim (match-high nine kills), helped the Wildcats rally and take an 18-17 lead.
A tip by Western Tech’s Sheri Adewumi tied the score at 18-all and back row kill from libero Carley Boarman made it 19-18.
It was one of three kills from the back row during the first set by Boarman.
“He (Jett) has definitely been stressing that he wants to work on implementing that into our offense, just because he thinks that people won’t really be able to get behind it and dig it, but I’m still working on it,” said Boarman, whose passing was a staple for starting the offense.
Another back row kill from Boarman made it 21-19.
“It’s definitely planned. She does a good job staying below the net,” Jett said. “She has to stay below the net when she makes contact so it’s something we work on constantly.”
Boarman’s ace increased the lead to 22-19 and Abdul-Rahim’s kill was the only other point the Wildcats would get in the set that ended with an ace by Avaion Barry.
The Wolverines built a 14-5 lead in the second set, bolstered by seven straight service points, including two aces, by Rachael Durham.
Adewumi (team-high eight kills) had two kills and setter Beatrice Daudelin had a block during the service run.
The Wildcats rallied again and pulled within one, 19-18, thanks to strong setting from Emma Thilker and aces by Thilker and Jaelyn Thomas.
Western Tech capitalized on a missed serve, hitting error and serve-receive error to expand the lead to 22-18 and, after Lauren Kramer’s kill the Wolverines ended the set with kills by Durham (6 kills) and Adewumi and an ace from Durham.
Carver wasn’t done making things difficult for the hosts and they charged to a 21-15 lead in the final set, spreading the hitting wealth with three kills by Abdul-Rahim, two from Imani Hopkins and one each from Jadyn Berkley and libero Judah Lyles.
“On the occasions where we did run offense they dug us and they did a great job getting the ball back,” Jett said. “When they weren’t setting nine (Abdul-Rahim), their girls were doing a good job putting the ball in spots and moving us around and not just giving us points, but trying to make us earn it and we had real trouble taking advantage of it.”
Boarman definitely felt the pressure in the match.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking because the last game was very tight and we did not expect to win all those games tight, but I definitely think it was just something that we know we have to be serious going into these finals,” Boarman said.
After an ace by Abdul-Rahim for Carver’s 21st point, Western Tech started a 8-0 that began with a kill from Ray.
With Durham serving, they scored seven more points and led 23-21.
Durham had an ace and Adewumi had two kills from the middle during the stretch.
A missed serve cut the lead to one, but a Carver hitting error was followed by a kill from Aduwumi to end the match.
Despite the loss, Carver coach Stephanie Washington praised her squad’s effort.
“We kind of struggled during the season and they kind of started coming into their own towards the end,” Washington said. “They fought hard and they played their best volleyball tonight. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I’m satisfied with how my girls played. They stepped up today with such a young team.”
On the other side, Jett was relieved.
“It was entertaining. It was exhausting,” he said.