Randleman’s Gabi Carter, left, and Mollie Hall defend at the net in the Class 2-A first-round matchup against visiting Bandys on Saturday. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)
Southwestern Randolph had a strong showing to begin defense of its Class 2-A state championship in volleyball.
The Cougars, who are the No. 2 seed in the West Region, opened the playoffs by defeating visiting Surry Central 25-9, 25-13, 25-11 on Saturday.
Madelyn Smith provided 13 kills and nine digs, Riley Key had 10 kills, Raegan LeRoy provided 30 assists and Carleigh Whitston made 10 digs to go with four aces for Southwestern Randolph (24-3).
Also in Class 2-A, 13th-seeded Randleman dispatched 20th-seeded Bandys 14-25, 25-18, 25-13, 25-22 in a home match behind Chloe Dixon’s 18 kills and 18 digs and Gabi Carter’s 12 kills.
Kenzie Roach supplied 29 assists and 13 digs, Karli Kennington turned in 19 digs, Camryn Vickery added 10 assists for the Tigers (17-5).
Three other teams from Randolph County lost in road matches.
No. 18 seeded Providence Grove fell 25-23, 25-23, 25-23 to No. 15 seed East Davidson. No. 29 seed Wheatmore came up short in a 25-10, 25-5, 25-6 loss at fourth-seeded East Surry. No. 32 seed Trinity was ousted in a 25-12, 25-19, 25-16 loss at top-seeded McMichael.
In Class 1-A, Uwharrie Charter Academy dispatched Piedmont Athletic Conference rival Eastern Randolph 25-18, 25-19, 25-23 in the first round. UCA (15-7) swept the Wildcats (5-14) for the third time this season.
Southwestern Randolph held momentum going into the Class 2-A state playoffs.
The Cougars followed their regular-season title in the PAC by capturing the conference tournament as well.
Southwestern Randolph defeated visiting Randleman 25-12, 26-24, 23-25, 21-25, 15-11 in Wednesday night’s final.
Madelyn Smith produced 24 kills and 16 digs and Gracie Hodgin had 23 kills and nine digs. Raegan LeRoy’s 64 assists were critical for the offense. Coley Shiflet had 31 digs and Carleigh Whitson made 26 digs for Southwestern Randolph (23-3).
Randleman (16-5), which handed the Cougars their lone PAC regular-season defeat, received 30 digs from Haley Hinshaw, 28 digs from Karli Kennington and 17 digs and 10 kills from Chloe Dixon. Camden Scott had 12 kills and Kenzie Roach chipped in with 17 assists and 10 digs.
Southwestern Randolph took down fourth-seeded Providence Grove a night earlier in the semifinals after receiving bye in the quarterfinals.
Randleman, which had a 12-match winning streak snapped, was playing its third match in three nights after sweeping Eastern Randolph in the quarterfinals and sweeping defending champion Uwharrie Charter Academy in the semifinals.