CLAY CITY -- Heading into the postseason with a target on their back, the Clay City Eels didn't seem to mind.
Clay City faced Eminence in the first round of the Class A Clay City Sectional Thursday, coming away with a 25-13, 25-11, 25-19, victory.
The Eels improved to 12-11 and will now face Union in the sectional semifinals Saturday, beginning at 12:30 p.m.
Clay City appeared to be a few steps quicker throughout the three-game series Thursday, something head coach Vance Edmondson said the team needed.
"We needed to come out with some energy," Edmondson said. "We did that. I'm real proud of them."
Clay City got off to a quick start in the first game, taking a 5-2 lead as the Eels took advantage of some Eminence errors in addition to timely kills from senior Halli Brewer.
The lead grew to 20-8 following four consecutive service aces from senior Callie Dayhuff, prompting Eminence to call a timeout.
Following the timeout and three straight points from Eminence's Shelby Gore, Clay City built its lead to 23-11 thanks to back-to-back kills from Brewer and Chloe Kittle.
A kill from senior Mackenzee Mckittrick ended the game.
Clay City jumped out to another big lead in the second game, forcing Eminence to call another timeout following three straight points from Brewer.
The Eels eventually found themselves up, 18-6 thanks to strong serving from Kittle and Claire Miller.
Edmondson said his team's serving was key to Thursday's victory, especially from his upperclassmen and freshman Alyssa Yocom.
"(Dayuff) is our best server," he said. "She got us on some runs. That's what we need our seniors to do. And (Yocom) has really come along for a freshman.
"We've had trouble with our serving this year. But we really tried to knock those down in the last week."
Clay City managed to take a 14-point victory in the second game thanks to back-to-back service points from Emmie Kittle and a huge kill to end the game by Brewer.
Eminence stayed within striking distance throughout the third game, something which Edmondson said was a little worrisome at this time of year.
"We might have let up a bit ... but we can fix that," Edmondson said.
Eminence took a 5-4 lead in the third game after three service points from Whitney Stierwalt, but Brewer helped Clay City reclaim the lead for good with a kill stalling the run and four service points, two of which were aces.
Eminence got as close as two points late in the contest, but Brewer closed out the game, tallying four of her game-high 17 kills in the game's final four points.
Brewer also had seven points, two digs and six blocks, while Dayhuff finished with 14 points, 11 kills, 120 digs and eight aces.
Other statistics for Clay City included Emmie Kittle with seven points, one kill, 35 assists, six digs and one ace; Chloe Kittle with two points, five kills and seven digs; Yocom with five points, three kills, two assists and two digs; and Claire Miller with 12 points and one dig.
Gore and Stierwalt both tallied four points to lead Eminence. In addition, Shania Wood had 16 digs.
Heading into the sectional semifinal, Edmondson said his squad would have to be prepared for Union.
"They have improved," he said. "We'll have to come ready to play."
At Clay City
Class A Clay City Volleyball Sectional
Clay City 25 25 25
Eminence 13 11 19
Next Game -- Clay City (12-11) will face Union in the sectional semifinal at 12:30 p.m., Saturday. The sectional championship game is scheduled for 7 p.m., Saturday.