Radford (20-6) got 14 kills each from senior Gabby Perez and sophomore Charli Dietz and 45 assists, 10 digs and seven kills from Emma Minnick to take a hard-fought, 18-25, 25-22, 27-25, 30-28 win over Union on Saturday in the Class 2 quarterfinal round.
“That was a really exciting match and I just told our team that’s probably the best all-around team that we have played,” said Radford coach Karen Adams.
After winning the first set, the Lady Bears (22-6) held a 7-2 lead in the second and a 6-1 advantage in the third, but Radford battled back each time thanks to strong net play and several unforced errors by Union.
“Part of that is Emili Brooks rotating to the back row,” noted Union coach Kim Moore. “Emili Brooks is strong at the net. We just had a hard time getting the ball down when she rotated to the back.”
Radford, holding a 2-1 lead entering the fourth set, opened strong, but Union battled back and took the lead several times late. The Lady Bears had set point twice but couldn’t convert.
Trailing 28-27, the Lady Bobcats scored three consecutive points — on a block by Bethany Roop and a pair of Union return errors — to take the set and the match.
“We had everything set up to win that last one,” Moore noted. “Both teams just really wanted it really bad.”
Brooks closed with 30 kills and 21 digs. Meagan Blagg added 10 kills, Jenna Wade tallied 21 digs and Zoe Brooks had 43 assists for the Lady Bears.
“We really had to fight toward the end for it,” Adams said. “I think in all the excitement sometimes the mental focus can get out of it. And that’s what we talked this evening about was really getting mentally focused. To be mentally focused on every single point. And we lost that a little bit in the fourth set, but they got it back in the very end.
“They could’ve said, ‘We’re going go to the fifth’ but they stayed with it.”
The Lady Bears — who featured only two seniors on their roster, Wade and Emilee Mullins — were making the first state quarterfinal appearance in the school’s history.
“It’s disappointing for us with how much they’ve invested, but they’ve had a great year and they’ve set a standard for our program,” Moore said.