Virginia High, the SWD regular-season and tournament champion, had its way with Wise Central, rolling to a 25-21, 25-18, 25-10 victory, thus earning a spot in Saturday's 7:15 p.m. regional semifinal against an old rival.
The Bearcats will face Gate City, a nemesis of sorts from recent days when both programs fought out of the Clinch Mountain District (now the Mountain 7). Gate City won its quarterfinal in straight sets over Richlands.
Saturday's winner qualifies for the upcoming Class 2 state tournament.
"Yeah," said VHS veteran coach Ashley Johnson, with a chuckle. "We are familiar with Gate City from over the years. I know they'll be well prepared."
To continue advancing through the postseason, Johnson knows her Bearcats (25-5) must play more consistently than they did against Wise Central, the No. 4 seed out of the Mountain 7 District.
VHS did blitz the Warriors to claim the third set, but early on the 'Cats were up and down, first getting pushed to the limit in the initial set after leading 15-3 and 19-6, then later having to break from an 8-8 deadlock to take the second set.
"After starting off strong we kind of sat back a bit and got too comfortable in that first set, which we work on, work on, work on," Johnson said. "The second set was kind of a recovery time for us, and by the third set we brought it back around and showed back up to play."
As usual, VHS was led statistically by junior superstar Camden Jones, a 5-10 outside hitter who finished with 13 kills and 16 digs.
"Camden is the all-around player," Johnson said. "She's the real deal."
Caitlin Hampton had 11 kills for the Bearcats, while Hannah Knight produced 38 assists and Bre Owens turned in 14 digs.
SLOW START TOO FAMILIAR
Second-year Wise Central coach Jessica Sturgill has seen it all before.
"I think we knew how good Virginia High was, and I think we were intimidated a bit to start with and we dug ourselves a huge hole," Sturgill said. "That's been our problem all season, getting down early and waiting too late to fight back.
"But I'm proud of the progress we made this season, our second straight in the regionals. We learned a lot. We don't have any seniors, so hopefully we'll work hard over the off season and get back here again, and maybe go a little farther."
The Warriors finished their season with an 11-13 record.