LAURINBURG — The Scotland volleyball team will enter unfamiliar territory when it takes the court Saturday against Mallard Creek for the first round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs.
Molly Hayes’ program is set to play in its first road playoff tilt since she was named head coach in 2013, and the trip to Charlotte is the Scots’ first postseason game away from Laurinburg since 2011. That season, then-coach David Barnes and Scotland advanced to the regional round of the playoffs before losing to Hoggard in a neutral-site affair.
The NCHSAA released the volleyball playoff brackets Thursday, tabbing Scotland as the No. 21 seed in the West Region. Scotland finished tied for second in the Southeastern Conference regular-season standings with Richmond Senior, but lost to the Raiders in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
The defeat hurt the Scots in the seeding process for the state playoffs — Richmond earned the No. 16 seed and will host No. 17 Ragsdale for its first-round game while Scotland will hit the road to play No. 12 Mallard Creek in Charlotte.
Scotland finished 13-9 overall with a 7-3 mark in the SEC but have lost two of its last three games entering the tournament.
The Mavericks, coached by David Brooks, wield a 20-6 record and posted a 10-2 mark in the MeCKa Conference. Mallard Creek placed second in its conference behind Hough — the Huskies were a perfect 12-0 in MeCKA play and snagged the No. 5 seed in the West Region.
The winner of Scotland-Mallard Creek will play the victor of Hough-East Forsyth. The Eagles, who are a No. 28 seed, were 11-12 this year and compiled a 2-8 record in the Piedmont Triad Conference.
Scotland has not advanced past the second round of the playoffs since Hayes became coach. In her first season, the Scots were eliminated at home in the second round by Rose. Last year, Scotland was unable to protect its home court in a defeat to Ragsdale during first-round action.
Two other SEC teams qualified for the playoffs, and both were placed in the West Region with Scotland.
Pinecrest, the conference’s regular-season and conference tournament champion, was slotted as a No. 9 seed and will play host to No. 24 Southern Alamance. The Patriots are 17-8 overall and 10-0 in the SEC while the visitors from Graham finished 14-12 and 6-4 in the All Metro Conference.
Richmond was selected to play in the same playoff game that featured Scotland last season — the Raiders, who were the No. 2 seed coming out of the SEC, garnered a No. 16 in the state playoffs and will welcome No. 17 Ragsdale to Rockingham. In the 16-17 matchup last year, the Tigers upset the Scots in four games to advance to the second round.
Richmond is 11-11 overall this year and 7-3 in the SEC while Ragsdale finished 12-12 and 6-4 in the Piedmont Triad Conference.
After the first round concludes Saturday, second-round action is set to start Tuesday. The volleyball state championship will be played Nov. 7 in Raleigh.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.