Law and his team were pushed to five sets, but it worked out in the end. Saks' players held the Class 3A, Area 10 trophy win to show for their 25-23, 25-17, 16-25, 24-26, 15-9 victory in the championship match.
“It feels great,” Law said about winning the area. “We were pretty evenly matched, and we knew that coming in after we split in the regular season. We knew it was going to be a battle. Both teams played hard.”
Both teams advance to the North Super Regional in Huntsville, with Saks (24-13) facing Area 13 runner-up Good Hope (38-16) on Friday, while White Plains (24-12) opens with Area 13 winner Danville (41-17).
Against White Plains, Saks took the first two sets by using long runs, similar to Saks’ 25-15, 25-11, 25-13 win over Weaver in the semifinals.
Saks, which won the Area 10 regular-season championship, was down 17-9 in the first set before going on a 10-2 run that got it back in the game. After both teams swapped points, Saks was able to score two in a row to win the set.
In the second set, White Plains jumped out to an early lead before Saks outscored the visiting Wildcats 19-7 after trailing 10-6. The run included seven straight points early on.
“We have a lot of girls with heart and desire and they want to be successful,” Law said. “They weren’t going to quit. But White Plains is the same way.”
Similarly to how White Plains battled back against Piedmont in the semifinals, winning 26-24, 20-25, 25-17, 25-23, the Wildcats made another comeback.
After taking an 8-0 lead in the third set, White Plains pushed the advantage by as much as 17-3 before Saks slowly made the match competitive.
“We’re so up and down and have been up and down all season, so it’s big if we get a big jump on a team,” White Plains coach Joi Watts said. “I tell them to break the game down into five, so we go first to five, first to 10, first to 15 and so on.”
The battle of fives in the fourth set included a 5-5 tie, 10-8 lead by Saks, 15-15 tie and a 20-19 lead by White Plains.
What got White Plains over the hump and to the 26-24 victory, Watts said, was the Wildcats simply played their game.
“My biggest thing is staying disciplined and doing what we’re supposed to do 100 percent and 100 percent of the time,” she said. “If we stay disciplined we’re fine.”
When it came to the fifth set, Saks’ Jordan Briskey just took over.
The sophomore seemed to shine a little brighter with the game on the line, finishing the match with 25 kills, including one for Saks’ 14th point of the set. After Saks regained a 9-8 lead, the Wildcats went on 7-1 run, Briskey’s kill providing the sixth point. On the next play, D’Talya Lewis killed the ball for the win.
“I knew they didn’t have any quit in them,” Law said.
Jaelyn Wilson had 14 kills and 47 assists for Saks. White Plains was led by Taylor Snellgrove, who had eight kills. Lauren Mueller had 10 assists.