Kiln — The Hancock Lady Hawks rallied from a 2-1 deficit to defeat the George County Lady Rebels in five sets 25-16, 19-25, 23-25, 25-19, and 15-12 to claim the 6A South State Volleyball Championship Monday night.
The Lady Hawks improve to 34-8 and will travel to Oxford on Thursday to take on Lake Cormorant at 3:00 pm in the Class 6A State Championship match.
George County, who entered the playoffs as a 4th seed in Region 4-6A, finished the season at 11-15 and was playing in its first South State Championship in the program’s history.
Hancock had swept the Lady Rebels by identical 3-1 scores during the regular season and after the first set appeared to be headed toward another easy victory. Hancock went on a 9-0 run to break a 12-all tie to take the first set 25-16.
George County jumped out to a quick 7-3 lead in the 2nd set before Hancock rallied to tie it at nine all. The Lady Rebels went on a 13-6 run to lead 22-15 and evened things up taking the 2nd set 25-19.
The 3rd set was tight throughout with the teams being tied at 7-7, 16-16, and 18-18. Hancock seemed to take control and led 21-18 before George County rallied to tie it once again at 21-21. The two teams continued to slug it out and were tied at 23 before back-to-back points by Aryana Dixon and Lani McDoniel left Hancock on the brink of elimination with a 25-23 win.
The 4th set began with the Lady Hawks on a 6-2 run capped by a kill by Anslee James forcing an early George County timeout. The Lady Hawks would maintain a three or four point lead throughout the set and with the Lady Hawks leading 23-19, Cambria Necaise served out the set sending the match to the deciding 5th and final set.
The 5th set played out just as the other 4 sets with both teams playing excellent defense and rallies keeping the fans on end on the edges of their seats. The set was tied at 5-5 when a Hancock run gave them an 8-5 lead forcing a George County timeout.
Carleigh Dedeaux gave Hancock a 12-10 lead but Jordyn Bradley’s kill closed it to 13-12 forcing a Hawks timeout. The timeout seemed to settle the Lady Hawks down as Lila Turner served out the match sending the home crowd into a celebration on the court with the team.
Hancock Head Coach Greg Dillard was proud of his team’s composure and resolve but said the mission is complete.
“We showed a lot of heart and courage tonight but we are going to Oxford with the intent of winning a state championship, we are not just happy to be there,” he said after the match.
Lady Rebels Head Coach Lainey Christian had nothing but pride for her Lady Rebels, “This team played their best volleyball at the end of the season and I could not be prouder of the effort we put forth tonight.” “We are a young team and just came up a little short on the road against a great team,” Christian added.
Anslee James led the Lady Hawks with service winners while Lane Wedgeworth and Cambria Necaise keyed the attack at the net. Josey Smith led the back line with several digs and key defensive plays. Aryana Dixon was big at the net for the Lady Rebels along with Jill Landrum and Ella Dean. Blakely Slay matched Smith leading the Lady Rebels in digs on the night.