During Hilton Head High's loss in last year's volleyball state championship, Seahawks coach Garret Talarczyk picked up on what he deemed a key cog in Nation Ford's program: The jump serve.
Every player had one, they all used it effectively, and the Seahawks were unprepared for it. It showed.
Now they're making it their own.
The Seahawks made the jump serve a priority during a rebuilding offseason, and it was in full effect in the team's eighth game of 2011. Behind 18 aces, Hilton Head High swept Whale Branch in three games Tuesday night (25-23, 25-22, 25-19), evening its record to 4-4 on the season. The Warriors suffered their first loss in six matches.
Senior Taylor Standen led the Seahawks with six aces.
"Coach told us we were going to come out as a jump-serving team," Standen said. "We're going to come out aggressive, even if we miss serves. It's working out so far."
It's one of the few changes the Seahawks have made in philosophy while the team undergoes a major overhaul with its roster.
The Seahawks lost nine seniors from last year's Class 3-A state runner-up squad, leaving them to rely on an inexperienced rotation to carry the load. That rotation includes a pair of freshmen, Brantley Herrington and Seirra Davis, who combined for 13 kills Tuesday night.
Three players -- Renee Homad, Hannah Eldeman and Kensley Phillips -- reached double digits in assists.
"We're young right now. Give us a year or two, and we're going to be there," Talarczyk said. "We're just putting the pieces together. We have to get that chemistry together."
The Warriors (5-1), a second-year Class 1-A program, face similar inexperience issues, but like the Seahawks, they expect younger players to perform well.
They did exactly that against a much larger opponent Tuesday night. The Warriors kept all three games tight until the final points and made a sizable comeback in Game 3 before the Seahawks were able to finish off the victory.
Deborah Fields led the Warriors with seven kills, with Vanessa Scott adding six and Jamie Whalen adding five.
"We played awesome," Warriors coach Kim Nicholson said. "Hitting, passing, serving, digging. We had a very good night."
Nicholson said the Warriors expect to compete for a Region 5-A title this season, a belief backed up by Tuesday's performance.
"This was a good confidence builder," Nicholson said. "We don't have anybody that tough in our region. For us to stick this close, it lets us know we're a real contender."