Orangeburg-Wilkinson volleyball fans got to witness history inside the O-W gym on Tuesday night.
And it was a bit more substantial than just watching a team with orange in its name wearing pink and black playing against a team with blue in its name wearing red and black.
The host Orangeburg-Wilkinson Bruinettes took a 3-1 win in the South Carolina High School League Upper State playoffs against the visiting Blue Ridge Fighting Tigers, with set scores of 25-22, 26-24, 14-25 and 25-15.
It marked the first time an O-W volleyball team has advanced to the third round of state playoffs in program history. But they're not done yet.
On Thursday, O-W will write some more program history, hosting a third-round state playoff match for the first time. The Bruinettes (36-1 record) will play host to the Lady Lions of D.W. Daniel (15-10-2 record) from Central at 6 p.m., with the winner advancing to the Class 4A Upper State final. Daniel rebounded from 2 sets down to take a 3-2 win at No. 1 seed Westwood in Blythewood on Tuesday, saving O-W a trip to northeast Columbia and rewarding the Bruinettes with another home match.
Defensively on Tuesday, O-W had a few shaky moments. But offensively, led by senior outside hitter and Region 4-4A Player of the Year Makayla Berry, the Bruinettes were steady and, at times, dominant.
"I'm just so happy and so excited for our girls for this win; they were starting to tap out some, but then they pulled through and got it done," O-W head coach Denolis Wright said, having been concerned about her team's conditioning after a nearly two-week layoff since the regular season finished. "Our girls had to realize, even when we don't get a block, we still know how to pass the volleyball and score.
"That was a great team of players from Blue Ridge. They weren't doing much blocking on us, but we really need to work on covering our base and playing better defense. That's another milestone for us, getting past the second round. We're pretty confident going forward."
Berry led the way with 23 kills, 19 digs, and a block kill. Her powerful returns brought cheers from the O-W faithful in the stands. But her timely dinks across the net to open spots on the floor for points were equally as effective.
"This is great, great, great," Berry said. "Our offense is great, but our defense needs a little work, since it isn't where it should be.
"It feels great, as a senior to win the region for the first time in like 30 years, get region player of the year, get this win. This is what we wanted. Now we have to dig deep to keep going. We're excited."
O-W also got solid play from Jeneene Lewis with 8 service points, 32 digs and 5 assists, Jada Berry with 11 service points, 3 digs, 32 assists and 4 block kills, Dominique Bartley with 16 service points and 16 digs, Setene Green with 4 block kills and 4 kills, Mackenzie Morgan with 7 service points and 14 digs, and Stephany Brailey with 4 kills and 4 block kills.
The two teams started slowly in the first set, until Makayla Berry delivered three straight points on two kills sandwiched around a push return for a point, as O-W went up 8-1. A few net returns, wide returns and a carry call on Blue Ridge players helped the home team establish 17-7 lead. The Bruinettes then pulled away 18-9 on a block kill that was defended by Siri Davis and Green. The Lady Tigers rallied behind multiple kills from Makenna Penuel, pulling to within 2 points at 23-21. But O-W got a dink for game point from Makayla Berry to win 25-22.
In the second set, O-W jumped ahead 5-1, thanks in part to several unforced errors on Blue Ridge players. The longest volley of the match ended with O-W playing the ball into the rafters, leaving the score tied 6-6. From there, Penuel had a string of kills at the net, leading Blue Ridge to a 14-7 lead. The Bruinettes battled back, however, pulling to within four points, 21-17, on a block kill that was defended by Brailey and Jada Berry. Makayla Berry then blocked a Penuel kill attempt for a point at 23-19, starting an 8-1 run that ended when Davis set Makayla Berry for a game-point kill and the 26-24 win.
Momentum in the match swung momentarily to the visitors in the third set, one they had to win to avoid being swept. Penuel and Baylie King delivered kills and dinks at the net, as the Lady Tigers took the 25-14 win.
With renewed focus on avoiding a decisive fifth set, O-W ran ahead 7-3 early in the fourth set, led by kills from Makayla Berry and Brailey. The two hitters delivered a barrage of hard returns at the net through the middle portion of the set, moving the Bruinettes to a 16-7 lead after a 6-0 scoring run. Brailey, Jada Berry and Green each delivered block kills late in the set, as O-W led 22-11. Jada Berry then ended the scoring and the match with a push return to the middle of the court on the Blue Ridge side, for the 25-15 final.