By JUSTIN RAINS
LUFKIN — In volleyball, the word sweep is usually associated with a win that comes with relative ease.
That wasn’t the case here Tuesday, but the Elkhart volleyball team will take it anyway.
The Lady Elks swept Woodville, 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 26-24), moving on to the area round of the playoffs for the first-time under coach Katie Lankford.
“I reminded them of all the hard summer work, all the two-a-days, all the lifting (and) all the running,” Lankford said after the match. “They found it deep within to come back.
“For them to do this, in a playoff game and for us to be this young, it’s awesome.”
Elkhart will take on former district-rival Sabine, the champion of District 18-2A, in the area round at 7 p.m. Thursday in Whitehouse.
The sweep almost didn’t happen, with Woodville taking what appeared to be a commanding 22-15 lead on the Lady Elks in the third game, trailing 2-0.
Then, the Elkhart attack turned it on.
Kills from Robin Grant and Ryan Grimsley cut the deficit to 22-17, followed by a Woodville error and another Grant kill to make it 22-19.
Woodville got a point back on a weird call, when Elkhart server Megan Davis appeared to be called for taking too much time serving.
Elkhart answered right back, with a Grimsley kill hitting the sideline for a point, followed by a spike from Tiffany Rosas that Woodville couldn’t get returned to make it 23-21.
A Catie Bridges serve also caused havoc for Woodville passers and fell in, making it 23-22, but her next serve went wide to put the Lady Eagles on the brink of a Game 3 win at 24-22.
But, Grant came up with a block to make it 24-23, and a bad Woodville pass that fell to the floor tied the game up at 24, the first time it had been tied since it was 6-6.
From there, Elkhart capitalized on all the momentum.
Cheatham smashed a kill to put the Lady Elks up 25-24, and Larami McAdams dropped a serve right in between the front and back lines of the Woodville defense to end the game, and the match.
“Our theme is relentlessness, so we said be relentless and keep going,” McAdams said of the team’s attitude after going down 22-15.
The comeback win to seal things was a bit of growth from Elkhart, which had problems in district play both putting matches away and rebounding from rough patches.
That wasn’t the case Tuesday.
“We’ve just been practicing real hard about (putting games away),” Grant said. “In practice, we practice on coming back from situations like that, and it just paid off.”
Elkhart trailed in every game, but every time rebounded nicely.
In Game 1, despite taking a 13-5 lead early, the Lady Elks allowed Woodville to climb back in, and the Lady Eagles eventually tied things up at 21 after an Elkhart lift.
But, the Lady Elks responded, and a kill from Grimsley, and an error from Woodville put Elkhart back up 23-21.
Elkhart got another point when Woodville couldn’t return a ball, and the game was sealed when Woodville didn’t return to the right rotation before the final serve.
In Game 2, Elkhart took an early lead but the game was mostly back-and-forth, with neither team gaining much of an edge.
Woodville took its biggest lead at 16-13, when Grant helped turn the Elkhart attack back around once again.
She and Megan Davis combined for a block to make it 16-14, and two Woodville errors tied things up at 16.
Back-to-back kills from Grimsley and Courtney Cheatham made it 18-16 Elkhart, and that got extended to 19-16 on a Woodville spike into the net.
A little later, Grant made it 20-17 with another kill, and after more back-and-forth, the sophomore middle blocker sealed the win with a block to make it 25-20.
“I really can’t say enough about her,” Lankford said of Grant. “She is one of those that is not extremely vocal, but she leads by example. It’s good to have one of those, and (her teammates) know that, when she’s on the front row, we need to go to her.”
Grant finished with 12 kills, tied for the team-high with Grimsley. Cheatham added five and Rosas three.
Paige Huff had 23 assists to lead the Lady Elks.