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Volleyball: Wolverines sweep War Eagles to punch postseason ticket
West Forsyth graphic 10-11-22

Last fall, West Forsyth fell to Denmark in the 3 vs. 6 matchup of the Region 6-7A tournament, ending the Wolverines' season.

On Tuesday, third-seeded West Forsyth exorcised half of those demons by sweeping No. 6 South Forsyth (25-13, 25-15, 25-17) in the first round of the 2022 edition of the tournament. Next up is a chance to banish the other half in a semifinal matchup with tournament host Denmark.

“I think a lot of the girls from last year’s team were like, it’s not happening again,” Wolverines head coach Jake Dickey said of being in the 3-6 contest. “I was proud of them for taking care of it tonight.”

West Forsyth (26-15) breezed to a win in the opening set, thanks in part to the hitting of Audrey Farbotko in the middle. The sophomore finished with seven kills in the match.

South Forsyth (17-17) hung around longer in the second set, staying within 18-14 before Adeline Wieler took over at the service line. The freshman libero recorded four consecutive aces in a row to put the set out of reach for the War Eagles.

Overall, Wieler posted 13 digs, seven aces snd three assists, while registering a 2.44 (on a scale of 0-3) in serve receive.

“Adeline has been pretty solid all season,” Dickey said. “Audrey has been getting better and better, and I think she is peaking at the right time. That’s exciting.”

In the third set, the Wolverines got off to a slow start before senior standout Reece Rhoads caught fire. The Winthrop commit managed four kills in a seven-point span that completely changed the set.

Prior to the run, West Forsyth trailed 13-9. By the end of it, the Wolverines led 15-14.

Dickey's group never fell behind again.

“That one emphatic kill was a big momentum changer,” Dickey said, discussing the impact of Rhoads, who totaled 15 kills. “That kind of energized our team. We just kind of took it and ran from there. That was a big play, and then she got on a roll.”

Coming off a 4-30 campaign in 2021, South Forsyth head coach Steffi Legall-Riddle certainly witnessed huge strides from her team this season.

That doesn't mean, however, that the War Eagles were satisfied with how the year ended.

“I don’t feel like we played our best volleyball tonight,” Legall-Riddle said. “It’s always unfortunate when you go out like that. Credit to West, they are a strong program and have a couple of really nice outside hitters. In the end, it was with the serving and passing that we never really got into an offensive rhythm.

“We can’t let one game define our season. That’s the message we left with the girls. We had to overcome several setbacks and obstacles this year.”

South Forsyth spent a significant portion of the season ranked in the top 10 of Class 7A. But region play presented a challenge that the War Eagles couldn't quite negotiate, as the team won just a single set in six matches, including Tuesday's contest.

“I think they realize how difficult it will be in this region to be successful,” Legall-Riddle said of what the younger players will take away. “I think they know that, but I also think it serves as a motivator for them for next year.

“We are losing nine seniors, so next year will be a little bit of a rebuilding process. But we also have some good pieces in place, with some current starters returning.”

Dickey echoed the sentiments about the difficulty of playing in the region. It's why he had hoped to earn a bye into the semifinals and not have West Forsyth's playoff fate come down to one game.

“There’s no cupcakes; there’s no easy outs,” Dickey said. “That’s why one of our goals was to not have to play this game, because I don’t want to play any of the teams for a chance to go home.”

Well, this year, the Wolverines survived the win-or-go-home contest, receiving big contributions from Lymaris Vasquez (8 kills, 9 digs) and Taryn Dickey (27 assists, 6 digs).

It's time to shift focus to landing the best-possible seed for the 7A state tournament, starting with the Oct. 12 semifinal against the Danes.

“South is very well coached, and they are not a bad team at all,” Dickey said. “I knew it was not going to be easy tonight. To finish in three was nice.

“Tomorrow will be a test, and it should be a fun match.”