CHARLOTTESVILLE — Jordian Eastes has been setting up Frannie Stephenson with well-placed spike volleys since the two were in the sixth grade.
However, with Eastern Hancock leading two sets to zero over Northeastern and the score reading 24-19 in favor of the Royals in the third set of the Sectional 41 championship Saturday night at EH, the stakes were a bit higher when Eastes lofted a pass to Stephenson for the potential sectional-clinching point.
Yet, the lob was true and the spike found an open sliver of hardwood, and Eastern Hancock claimed a sectional title for the first time since winning its only crown in 1984.
“We all thought it was possible. It doesn’t seem real right now,” said Stephenson, a senior outside hitter. “It’s such an awesome experience. I love these girls, and we’ve been through everything together.
“It’s amazing. It’s amazing what’s going on right now.”
With their 25-20, 25-18, 25-19 victory over the Knights (26-9), the Royals advanced to today’s one-game regional (7 p.m.) at Sectional 42 champion Heritage Christian (14-19), with the winner earning a semistate date against the victor of Southwestern (26-10) and Class 2A No. 2 Providence (32-4) Saturday morning at Forest Park.