ANDERSON — In danger of going down two sets in a win-or-go-home situation, Meredith Beck and the rest of her underclassmen T.L. Hanna teammates thought about the three seniors that carried them to a second-place finish in their region and a first-round home playoff game.
And they weren’t ready for it to end.
Hanna, ranked No. 9 in Class AAAA, faced three different four-point deficits in the third set only to rally back and then close out a 25-18, 19-25, 25-22, 25-13 win over Fort Mill on Tuesday to advance in the state playoffs.
“They just realized they didn’t want the season to end,” Hanna coach Becky Easton said. “They basically dug deep and played with heart. They turned it on when they had to.”
Hanna (19-10-2) will travel No. 4 Dorman, a winner over South Pointe on Tuesday, for the second round Thursday. The Cavaliers have beaten the Jackets once already this season in the Dorman Tournament of Champions last month.
Trailing 17-12 with it tied a set apiece, it looked as if Easton’s push to make Hanna a real contender was going to hit a rather large roadblock. Fort Mill, which finished fifth in a balanced Region 3-AAAA, played strong at the net against Molly Malone, Hanna’s all-state outside hitter.
Libero Gabrielle Seymore made a few crucial digs to keep Fort Mill in match.
During a timeout, Easton reminded her players of their options.
“Coach can’t get out on that court for us,” Beck said. “She said if we want to lose we should just walk out of the gym right now.”
Beck picked up the slack, hitting the corners, finding the seams and hitting around blocks to finish with 14 kills. None were more crucial than the three during the last half of the third set when Hanna outscored Fort Mill 13-5. Malone had a kill to go up 24-22 and Sarah Janninck came up with a huge block to win it.
“Every single point out of the 25, they all mattered,” Beck said.
Setter Bethany Morgan finished with 28 assists, an ace and two digs while libero Kristen Johnson had 28 digs as Hanna rolled out to a 20-9 lead in the fourth set and finished the job.
Fort Mill finished its season 12-11-2.
“I’m so proud of the girls,” Fort Mill coach Gina Farley said. “I told the girls that, from the beginning of the season to where they are now, they have come so far. They’re playing with great rhythm and they’re playing as a unit not as individuals. They know we earned every bit of being in these playoffs and they could have walked away with a win here tonight.”