Sutherland had a long rally in service in each of its sets on Monday to defeat Maxwell in the subdistrict semifinals on Monday night.
The Sailors swept the Wildcats 25-16, 25-20, 25-14 at the McGahan Activities Center to move into the D1-11 finals against Paxton on Tuesday night.
Sutherland coach Valerie Kershner said that she liked how her team responded against a Maxwell team that had its backs to the wall and nothing to lose.
"We definitely had a lot of good, aggressive serves," said Kershner. "Maxwell played hard and they made it a lot harder than the girls were anticipating. It was nice to see the girls get some long runs."
In the first set, Maxwell (8-21) got out to a 5-2 lead after a kill by Josie Cox. But the Lady Sailors (22-6) asserted themselves quickly and tied the game at six after an ace by Sam Kennedy.
After tying the game with her jump serve, Kennedy served for four more aces to force Maxwell to use a timeout. But after the timeout, Jalyne Schuster made blocks on the next two plays for a 12-6 lead and the Wildcats never recovered.
Sutherland had a quicker start in the second set. After Schuster made a kill to put the Sailors up 9-5, the junior outside hitter went to the back row and delivered three straight aces, which was followed by a kill from Kristen Nelson for a lead of 13-5.
The Lady Sailors had setpoint shortly thereafter, but Maxwell fought them off several plays with Aura Adkisson serving before Sutherland finally put it away.
In the third set, the Lady Wildcats led as much as 11-7 after an ace by Taelor Morrissey.
But all that changed when Nelson went back to serve after the following play. Nelson served for 14 consecutive plays to break it open and end it early for the No. 1 seed Sutherland.
Other than the long runs by Kennedy, Schuster and Nelson, a young Maxwell team held its own with the mighty Sailors in its last game of the season, which has Wildcat coach Lori Mau feeling good about the future.
"Our defense did a lot of good things, we just had some big slumps that we couldn't get over," said Mau. "The kids fought hard and gave it everything they had."
Joli Hopping had 30 assists and three ace serves for Sutherland. Sam Kennedy had 16 kills, 14 digs and five aces. Jaylene Schuster had 11 kills, 12 digs and three aces.
Sutherland played solid defense. Kaley Stokey, Kristen Nelson and Haley Baxter all had five or more digs.
On Tuesday, Sutherland will play Paxton in a rematch of last year's subdistrict final in which the Sailors outlasted the Tigers in five sets.
The No. 2-seed Paxton squeaked by Hitchcock County in five sets in its semifinal match on Monday.
Wildcats get past Cyclones
Before falling to Sutherland, Maxwell defeated Stapleton-McPherson County 25-16, 23-25, 25-15, 25-17 in a bunny bracket game on Monday to open the subdistrict.
In the first set, Maxwell had some momentum, leading 8-4. But SMC (3-20) came back to take a lead of 10-9.
Both teams battled until libero Naomi Schaub ran off eight straight in service to give the Lady Cats a 21-14 lead to gain the upper hand.
The second set went down to the wire with the Cyclones winning the last two plays on a block by Ashley Starr and a kill by Sami Riedel to even it up.
But Maxwell went on a roll to start the third. The Wildcats took a lead of 13-2 after Schaub served for three straight aces.
In the fourth set, the two teams played pretty even until Maxwell pulled away near the 20-point mark and that was enough for the Lady Wildcats to advance in four sets.
Serving was feast or famine for Maxwell in the match against SMC but they played well enough to defeat the Cyclones.
"SMC has improved a lot and I thought we struggled serving the ball," Mau said. "I don't even want to know how many serves we missed. When we got the serves over, we did well but we had too many misses."