ATHENS — It was a sweep and a scrap at the same time but Highland Park was just too much for a Hallsville squad that kept swinging.
Behind a balanced attack, the Lady Scots ended Hallsville’s season with a three-game sweep (25-18, 25-18, 25-13) in a Class 5A, Region II area playoff on Tuesday.
Highland Park (18-7), in the second round for the ninth-straight season, advances to the regional quarterfinal and will meet Midlothian. Hallsville, whose roster has just two seniors, concludes its season at 12-7 after grabbing its first playoff win in two seasons.
The Lady Scots brought its size and depth in a balanced attack throughout and kept the Ladycats out of rhythm all night.
Highland Park had four players with at least seven kills, led by a dominant night at the net from junior Emily Hellmuth, who had a match-high 11 kills to go with four blocks.
For Hallsville, senior Ashley Jones capped a stellar Ladycat career with 18 assists and two kills. She guided a young Ladycat offense throughout as seven players recorded kills. Hallsville’s second senior, Chloe Ferrill, was a staple on the back line and made a number of point-saving digs, including one that went for a kill off a Highland Park serve in the opening game.
Ayden McDermott led Hallsville with eight kills and Olivia Simmons, a sophomore, followed with six to go with four blocks. Brooke Grissom chipped in added three kills and Cate Thomas had two for Hallsville.
Sydney Breon followed Hellmuth with nine kills for Highland Park, who got seven kills each from Presley Wright and Nicole Mauser. Carter Ching finished with 20 assists and Kennedy Westendoff, a South Carolina signee, solidified the Lady Scott defense along with Breon, who turned in an all-around night.
The night started in a big way for Hallsville with back-to-back kills from McDermott as the Ladycats raced to a 9-3 lead.
Serving errors, however, and the one-two punch of Breon and Hellmuth erased that quickly as the Lady Scots with on a 7-0 run and followed with a 6-0 run to gain control. Wright had three kills down the stretch for a 25-18 Lady Scot win.
In the second game, Highland Park freshman Emily Hellmuth went on a 7-0 run from the stripe and Bela Alomar followed with a 4-0 stretch.
Kills from Jones, McDermott and an ace from freshman Macie Nelson for Hallsville evened the set at 15-all. But Breon and Hellmuth teed off from there, combining for six points in a 7-2 run for a 2-0 Lady Scot lead.
An ace from Westendorff capped a 12-5 lead and the Lady Scots’ depth from there completed the sweep.